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Arnold School of Public Health

I Am Public Health: Paige Banaszak

August 1, 2023 | Erin Bluvas,

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 Banaszak.

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 niche.  

paige banaszak
After graduating with a M.S. in Speech-Language Pathology this month, Paige Banaszak will work at a clinic that provides both speech-language and mental health services.

As an undergraduate, she volunteered at the UNumb Center for Neurodevelopment and The Therapy Place and served on the executive board for the Exercise Science Club and Best Buddies. She even worked in three different research labs within the Department of Communication Science and Disorders (COMD) to learn more about language/literacy development among elementary school children: Lisa Fitton’s Reach Every Reader Project, Kenn Apel’s Project Morphological Awareness Test for Reading and Spelling (MATRS), and Suzanne Adlof’s South Carolina Research on Language and Literacy (SCROLL) Lab – earning her Graduation with Leadership Distinction in Research. 

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.”

The Webber Fellow also served on the executive board for USC’s National Student Speech-Language Hearing Association group and gained clinical experience at private practice, elementary school and medical center settings as well as the Montgomery Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic. In addition to Fitton, she found mentors in Lynsey Keator and Jamy Claire Archer.

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.

Paige Banaszak

“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 therapy.

“I feel as though it is crucial for these fields to work more closely together for better patient outcomes,” she says. 


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