Paige Banaszak discovered her passion for speech-language pathology during her elective coursework.
The first class that led her to the field took place at Irmo Middle School, where
she was partnered with a peer who had a disability.
“My interest in rehabilitative services began when I spent one class period per week
with my classmate, practicing life skills such as reading and counting money,” says
This experience sparked an interest in occupational therapy, and she decided to major
in public health when she enrolled at USC for her bachelor’s degree. When she took an introduction
to speech-language pathology course as an elective, Banaszak knew she had found her
After enrolling in COMD’s M.S. in Speech-Language Pathology program, Banaszak continued working with Fitton as a graduate research assistant.
She presented findings from their work and her own at the South Carolina Speech and
Hearing Association’s annual conferences.
“Dr. Fitton fulfilled multiple roles in my academic career, including research principal
investigator, professor, thesis director and academic advisor,” Banaszak says. “She
taught me professional skills in addition to providing me with unwavering support
throughout my time at USC.”
“Dr. Keator was my instructor in undergrad for the introduction to speech-language
pathology course that far exceeded my expectations and led me to applying to the master’s
program as USC,” Banaszak says. “Ms. Archer has played the largest role in the advancement
of my clinical skills and has been an incredibly encouraging and supportive mentor
throughout my graduate studies.”
In addition to being inspired by mentors, Banaszak found her own passion for a specific
area within the COMD field: the impacts of mental health on all domains of an individual’s
life, especially the academic impacts. She wrote her thesis paper on the effects
of intergenerational trauma on elementary-aged children’s language and literacy performance.
After graduating this month, she’ll work in private practice with patients of all
ages who have speech, language and swallowing challenges. Banaszak chose this particular
clinic because they provide mental health therapy services alongside speech-language
“I feel as though it is crucial for these fields to work more closely together for
better patient outcomes,” she says.