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Arnold School alumna Sharon Webber supports communication sciences and disorders students with annual scholarships

October 25, 2016

“Why not spread the happiness?” says Arnold School of Public Health alumna Sharon Webber of her decision to establish the Sharon G. Webber Endowed Fellowship Fund 12 years ago. “Hopefully my scholarships will make the road just a bit smoother for the person just as determined as I once was to get my education, no matter what!”

As the first person in her family to go to college, the Albany, Ga. native knows what she’s talking about. Webber earned a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Georgia and then went on to graduate with a master’s in speech-language pathology from the Arnold School’s Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders (COMD) in 1981. “I was determined to get my education, and by holding down various jobs, getting loans, and receiving scholarships, I forged ahead,” she says. “I am eternally grateful to those who believed in me and who gave me a helping hand.”

During her time at UofSC, Webber also met her husband, M. Thomas Webber, Jr., who was then a student at the University of South Carolina School of Law. They graduated at the same time and moved to Greenville, S.C. where he practiced law and she worked as a speech-language pathologist (SLP) in the Greenville County School District. 

Hopefully my scholarships will make the road just a bit smoother for the person just as determined as I once was to get my education, no matter what!

-Sharon Webber, President and Co-owner of Super Duper® Publications

As a student clinician in the COMD department, Webber enjoyed creating fun and engaging therapy materials for patients that she would share with other clinicians. “The children seemed to like the worksheets I created, and I continued to develop materials after I got my job as an SLP,” she says. Together with her husband, Webber founded Super Duper® Publications when their first child was just a year old so she could focus on making more materials while spending time at home with their daughter.

Thirty years and five more children later, their thriving company is a hub of creativity and the center of family life. Webber, herself, designs the various work spaces within their 140,000 square foot facility (which is designed to look like a castle) known as Webber Court to enhance employee satisfaction, productivity, and inspiration. Their children have begun to join the family business—contributing to everything from operations to art.

Focusing on children, ages preschool through elementary, Super Duper® Publications’ 65+ employees design and distribute hundreds of educational and therapy materials to schools, clinics, and parents who wish to help children learn in a creative and engaging context. “What can we give to the SLP who is going to five elementary schools and sees 100 kids?” says Webber of working from the premise of providing solutions for making therapy work without feeling like work. “It is extremely gratifying to work with talented people in our company to create therapy materials that are fun and practical.”

It is extremely gratifying to work with talented people in our company to create therapy materials that are fun and practical.

-Sharon Webber, President and Co-owner of Super Duper® Publications

They have shared their success with thousands of others in their profession by donating millions of dollars’ worth of their products to students to use in their clinical interactions through their University Partner® Program over its 19-year history. The Webbers have also extended their generosity through scholarship programs at their alma maters, including one for COMD students at UofSC and the University of Georgia.

Leslie Lancaster, a Master of Communication Disorders in Speech Language Pathology (MCD) student, is the recipient of their UofSC COMD scholarship this year. Lancaster earned a bachelor’s degree from Carolina in English and discovered a passion for linguistics. She found her way to the COMD department when she signed on as a literacy research assistant for Assistant Professor Suzanne Adlof. That experience led her to change her focus from linguistics to communication sciences and disorders. After enrolling in the MCD program, she also joined Professor Julius Fridriksson’s Aphasia Lab, where she continues to gain experience in the area where she hopes to work after her 2017 graduation—communication rehabilitation with adults.

Lancaster will use the scholarship to make her first trip to the American-Speech-Language-Hearing Association Convention in Philadelphia next month where she will supplement the education she is receiving from her program with sessions that dig deep into current and new aspects of the field.

It’s very important to us to give back and spread the happiness. Even something small is huge to those on the receiving end.

-Sharon Webber, President and Co-owner of Super Duper® Publications

Out of financial reach for many students, this conference attracts more than 12,000 attendees each year and delves into every aspect of the field, including new scientific research and clinical applications. At the conference, Lancaster will have another chance to thank her benefactors, who host several booths each year to display their products.  

With more of their children joining the family business, the Webbers are now entering the second generation of Super Duper® Publications. They are continuing to grow their selection of products to make therapy fun and educational for children while they are also expanding their generosity. The University Partner® Program is open to any accredited speech-language pathology program. They also have plans to optimize their Sharon G. Webber Fellowship Fund for COMD students at Carolina through additional distributions and donations.

“It’s very important to us to give back and spread the happiness,” Webber says of her commitment to the Arnold School’s speech-language pathology programs. “Even something small is huge to those on the receiving end.”

Yes, coursework can be difficult, but in the end, you can go forth with confidence that you have earned a degree from an excellent program!

-Sharon Webber, President and Co-owner of Super Duper® Publications

Beyond the financial assistance, she believes that social support is an important element found within the COMD department. “My program at USC led to lifelong friendships!” she says. “In fact, one of my instructors later became a published author with our company, and she remembered that I was always ‘doodling away’ in her class. We get a chuckle out of that.”

Chuckling aside, Webber understands the challenges of earning a degree in a rewarding and rigorous field such as communication sciences and disorders. “First take a deep breath, you will survive! Yes, coursework can be difficult, but in the end, you can go forth with confidence that you have earned a degree from an excellent program!” she says. “Follow your dreams and remember, when someone says, ‘you can’t’…you might want to ask, “why not?’” That’s what I did!! No single person has all the questions, and no single person has all the answers. Do the very best you can, every day.”