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Arnold School of Public Health


Two speech-language pathology students win national awards

September 3, 2015 | Erin Bluvas, bluvase@sc.edu 

Two Arnold School students from the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders (COMD) have been named recipients of the 2015 Students Preparing for Academic-Research Careers Award from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). Sheida Abdi and Stacey Sangtian, both students in the Master of Speech-Pathology program, were two of only 11 awardees chosen from applicants across the United States. 

This Award program is part of ASHA’s effort to increase research commitment by fostering students’ interest in the pursuit of earning a doctoral degree and pursuing a career in academia. As recipients, Abdi and Sangtian will each receive a $1,000 stipend to support mentored teaching and research activities.

Abdi plans to work as a speech-language pathologist for a few years before continuing her education in communication sciences and disorders. She will use her stipend to fund her travel to ASHA’s annual conference this fall in Denver.

Sangtian will also gain experience in a clinical setting as a speech-language pathologist prior to returning to academia to pursue a doctoral degree. Her stipend will go toward lab supplies for her master’s thesis project and travel to the Society for Neuroscience annual conference in Chicago where she will present a research poster.

A requirement of the award program and a necessity for any aspiring scholar, mentors have played an important role in these students’ educational development so far. “Dr. Roozbeh Behroozmand has been supportive and encouraging of my research and academic goals since I started the program,” Sangtian says. “He has allowed me the opportunity to be involved in all aspects of research—from conception of a new project to the writing of the final manuscript.”

Suzanne Adlof has been a critical part of Abdi’s progress as well. “Dr. Adlof has provided me with invaluable knowledge and support as an educator and researcher,” she says. Abdi and Sangtian are appreciative of the support they receive from COMD as a whole. “I am grateful to Dr. Krystal Werfel for helping me with the preparation of the award application and to the department for their support of students pursuing outside funding opportunities,” says Sangtian.

Advocating for students is a consistent theme throughout the department and is especially important to Chair Kenn Apel, who leads by example. “This particular award has the potential for marking a milestone in the lives of these students,” he says. “With this award, they not only will be able to complete their research projects, they also may be swayed into pursuing additional research experiences and even pursuing a doctoral degree.” 

Indeed, ASHA’s goal for this program is to help fill faculty/researcher vacancies in the field of communication sciences and disorders. “Our profession is looking for the next cohort of the best and brightest researchers, and these students definitely fit the bill,” says Apel.