March 16, 2016 | Erin Bluvas, firstname.lastname@example.org
Angela McLeod, a Clinical Associate Professor in the Arnold School’s Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders (COMD), received the DiCarlo Award for Outstanding Clinical Achievement from the South Carolina Speech-Language-Hearing Association (SCSHA) at the organization’s annual convention in February (see McLeod’s award video). Named for Louis M. DiCarlo, who had a long and distinguished career in communication sciences and disorders, this award is given to an individual who makes a specific, outstanding clinical contribution to the field. Winners at the state level are considered for the national-level awards of SCSHA’s parent organization, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
McLeod received the award for her steadfast commitment to her clinical and service work along with her initiative to integrate the latest research into these activities. “Angela is extremely deserving of this award,” says COMD Chair Kenn Apel. “We are so proud of her and all of the hard work she puts into her clinical work for patients and in mentoring our students.”
But McLeod’s passion for her field began long before this award. “I can remember wanting to be in some type of ‘helping profession’ since my early childhood,” McLeod says. Yet speech-language pathology was not on her radar when she enrolled at Clemson University for her undergraduate degree.
“I have a family member who received the services of a speech-language pathologist for many years, and I was able to observe a literal transformation in his communicative abilities between his early childhood and his graduation from high school,” she explains. “As a young child, only his family members could understand his speech, and he used gestures to supplement verbal communication, but after consistent enrollment in therapy with a speech-language pathologist, no one could tell that he had ever experienced a communication disorder by the time he reached high school.”
After witnessing her relative’s transformation and the impact that the clinicians had on his life—and the lives of his family members—McLeod decided to change her career path during her junior year. She earned bachelor’s degrees in biological sciences and science teaching (biological emphasis) from Clemson. Then McLeod completed a master’s degree in communication disorders from Appalachian State University and later earned a Ph.D. in speech-language pathology (emphasis in child language and emergent literacy development) at the University of South Carolina.
McLeod has spent nearly half of her 20-year career at the Arnold School where she provides clinical instruction and supervises graduate students (25 contact hours per week) who provide clinical services at COMD’s USC Speech and Hearing Research Center as well as local preschools, daycares, schools and churches. She changes lives through her clinical work, specializing in low-incidence disorders, such as selective mutism. McLeod also teaches academic courses and partners with faculty and practitioners on research, committees, and other collaborative projects.
“I thoroughly enjoy the work in my position, and I feel especially privileged to be able to share my experiences with the students with whom I work in COMD,” she says. “I work among an amazing group of knowledgeable, expert, and compassionate colleagues, and they are all stellar in their work and pursuits.”
One of McLeod’s most important roles is mentor to the future speech-language pathologists who earn their graduate degrees at the Arnold School. Tireless in her effort to be the best clinician she can be, McLeod sees mentoring activities as an opportunity for her to learn as well. “Becoming a competent clinician occurs when the graduate student successfully combines what she or he has learned from others with a unique approach to working with patients,” she explains. “When one transitions from graduate student to clinician-scientist-professional, the opportunities for learning from colleagues and peers in various settings often continue.”
McLeod finds these opportunities in her everyday work, always striving to learn more—to do more—for her patients and the students who look to her for guidance. “Over the years that I have been in the profession, I have learned from faculty, colleagues, and clinician mentors, and I constantly aim to stay abreast of the research in the field of communication sciences and disorders,” she says. “I consider myself to be a life-long student and learner and aim to be vigilant in discovering information that can aid my effectiveness.”