The 2020 recipient is Amanda Dolan, a first-year graduate student at New York Medical College, Westchester, NY
The Voice Aerobics® graduate student scholarship is awarded annually to a student who demonstrates character traits and intention to make a positive contribution to the field of Speech-Language Pathology.
When working with patients who have speech and swallowing problems from a sudden event like a stroke or traumatic brain injury, or patients with a neurodegenerative disease such as Parkinson’s or ALS, both the therapist, and patient must have a certain amount of tenacity and hope.
Rarely is speech therapy a quick fix for any condition, and the ability to persist in the face of a communication or swallowing impairment requires commitment and resilience on the part of patients.
It is fitting, perhaps, that this year at a time when life feels a bit upside down for all of us, that Amanda is the scholarship recipient, because she knows first-hand about perseverance and resilience.
In 2011, Amanda suffered a traumatic brain injury, and activities that she had previously taken for granted, such as eating without migraines, sleeping without insomnia, and expressing herself without confusion became her new daily challenges. She feared she might not recover, but, she did, and she credits the kindness and compassion of her speech therapist as an important component of the treatment that helped her resume a more normal life, saying: “her encouragement and commitment to my care gave me hope, enabled my recovery, and instilled in me the desire to one day provide passionate and patient-oriented care.”
Amanda was selected from a field of over 100 scholarship applicants, and as in prior years, the selection was difficult. Several applicants shared that their first exposure to our field was when a family member required speech-language services, and others, like Amanda, described a more personal experience with their own communication impairment.
Amanda wrote: “I have a passion for helping others,” representing one of the most important character traits a speech-language pathologist can possess and that no academic program can teach.
I want to thank every student who took the time to apply for the scholarship, and assure you, regardless the number of years you spend working in our field, you will never stop learning, and if your work is driven by a desire to help others, you will be forever fulfilled.
“The Voice Aerobics® student scholarship award was begun as a way of giving back to the profession that I love, to support clinicians who represent the future of the field, and as a way of affirming the continued success of my own business. Thank you to everyone who took the time to submit an application.”
Mary Spremulli, MA, CCC-SLP, Owner, Voice Aerobics, LLC