- Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion
By Kieara Pena and Melanie Sparks
LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 24, 2017) — Student success is the number one priority at the University of Kentucky College of Health Sciences. Unmet financial need is a major obstacle to success for many college students. Through the acquisition of a recent grant, the College is making significant strides to close the gap for its Communication Sciences and Disorders graduate students.
Last year, the College of Health Sciences received a $1.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Human Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) to provide scholarship funds to graduate students studying speech-language pathology who had unmet financial need. In addition, students met one of the following criteria: were from an Appalachian County, were first generation college students, or were from either an educationally or economically disadvantaged background.
“As a College, we are committed to supporting each student from admission through graduation,” said Scott M. Lephart, Ph.D., Dean of the College of Health Sciences. “It is our duty to do our very best to ensure they graduate as career-ready professionals, and that includes ramping up scholarship efforts.”
The project directors are Sharon Stewart Ed.D., associate dean for special projects, and Anne Olson Ph.D., communication sciences and disorders division director. The purpose of this multi-year scholarship program is to increase the number of licensed speech-language pathologists in medically underserved communities by removing financial barriers to successful program completion.
“Because of this scholarship, I have been able to focus on learning and experiencing everything graduate school has to offer, rather than worrying about how I will pay for my education and living expenses,” said Megan Wimpsett, a graduate student in Communication Sciences and Disorders. “This scholarship has also granted me a feeling of freedom in not only my clinical rotation choices, but also my future employment decisions. I am not restricted to clinical rotations that are close to home, and I do not have to worry about choosing a job that has the highest salary, in order to pay off student loans. I am able to let my genuine interests guide those decisions.”
Students eligible for the scholarship were those who demonstrated sufficient unmet financial need established by HRSA and were: a first-generation college student; from an Appalachian county; or from an environmentally, educationally or economically disadvantaged background were eligible to apply.
In 2016-17, 12 first- and second-year graduate students received awards sufficient to provide full or partial tuition and, in some cases, an additional stipend for the academic year. All recipients were full-time students in good academic standing, and all students who graduated in 2017 have met an important step in entering the profession by successfully passing the professional Praxis examination.
Annaliese Norris, a scholarship recipient and Communication Sciences and Disorders graduate student, is one of eight children, from rural North Carolina. Annalise and her husband Daniel, who is a student in the College of Pharmacy, will both be pursuing careers in a hospital setting.
“While we are loved and encouraged by our families, Daniel and I have no financial support coming from either side,” Annaliese Norris said. “We would never ask our families to shoulder this burden, when they already work hard to provide for so many others. The cost of pursuing our dreams would have been
inconceivable without the aid I received from this scholarship…This scholarship has changed my life, and I cannot wait to give back through my service to the people I will encounter in my future profession.”
Scholarship recipient Jessica Kadle recently graduated from UK and will soon move to Indiana to work as a speech- language pathologist in a hospital.
“This scholarship was a tremendous help,” Kadle said. “I was able to have one or two jobs throughout most of undergrad and part of grad school. However, during my second year of grad school, I was not able to work because I was completing my rotations. Additionally, I decided to travel to St. Louis for my spring clinical site. This scholarship allowed me to focus on learning how to work in a clinical setting without having to worry about my finances.”
This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), grant number 30179, Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students ($368,750.00 in year 1). This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.
Read the original UKNow article here.