Danielle Spagnuolo of Wyoming, a speech-language pathology graduate student at Misericordia University, received the 2019 Von Drach Memorial Scholarship from the Pennsylvania Speech-Language Hearing Association (PSHA) at the 60th annual PSHA Convention in Lancaster.
Misericordia University speech-language pathology students have received 11 out of the last 12 Von Drach Scholarship awards. The scholarship is presented annually to an outstanding student from one of the state's 14 speech-language pathology academic programs in honor of Dr. Robert Von Drach. Recipients are students who exhibit strong leadership abilities, outstanding academic performance, exceptional clinical skills, and scholarship within the profession.
Spagnuolo's interest in the specialty field of communicative sciences and disorders began as a client. During childhood, the daughter of John and Cyndi Spagnuolo misarticulated the "r" sound, affecting the intelligibility of her speech and ability to communicate effectively in social situations, according to the essay she wrote for the Von Drach Memorial Scholarship Committee.
"At first, the misarticulation was seen as cute, however as I got older, it became something that stopped me from meeting my fullest potential,'' the Wyoming Area High School graduate wrote. "I never imagined I would not want to go to school or participate fully in my education. I dreaded talking in a way I never thought was possible.''
A family member's recommendation to seek therapeutic services at the Misericordia University Speech-Language and Hearing Center for speech anomalies addressed the articulation disorder and identified her career path and college.
"All of that hard work has shown me exactly what it takes to make progress in therapy and reinforced the importance of compassion and motivation in a difficult process,'' Spagnuolo added in her essay. "My experience with wonderful and dedicated clinicians prepared me to work as a clinician and help other people make the same progress I did.''
Spagnuolo has participated fully in her academic career at Misericordia University, as she enrolled in the Honors Programs and has been an active member of the Pennsylvania Speech-Language-Hearing Association and National Student Speech Language Hearing Association.
In addition, she has collaborated with mentors Professor Cari M. Tellis, Ph.D., C.C.C.-S.L.P., and Professor Glen M. Tellis, Ph.D., as a research assistant on numerous scholarly research projects and presented 30 research papers – 12 oral and 18 poster presentations – at state, national and international conferences.
"She spends many of her own hours mentoring students in research, training them on the technical aspects of the instrumentation, and helping them create and practice presentations of the research,'' Professor Cari Tellis wrote in her reference letter to the committee. "She is meticulous and steadfast; she is dedicated and dependable. Danielle is a critical thinker and a problem solver; she investigates questions, figures out potential solutions, and tests to find the best outcome.''
Professor Glen Tellis added in his reference letter, "a hallmark of Danielle's work is that she is an exceptional student who performs in the top 1 percent of her class in all her assignments and academic performance. She reads beyond the textbook and devours research articles to obtain a bigger picture about our field.''
Upon receiving her master's degree during the spring commencement ceremony in May, Spagnuolo plans to work in her field of study before enrolling someday in a Ph.D. program to continue her education in the communication sciences.
"I never could have imagined as a 13-year-old girl afraid to talk for fear of speaking wrong that I would one day be able to succeed in the ways that I have thus far in my academic career,'' she concluded in her essay. "I will continue to carry that through my career to empower every client to succeed the way I have succeeded.''
For more information about Misericordia University's master's degree program in speech-language pathology, please call 570-674-6400 or visit www.misericordia.edu/slp.
Danielle Spagnuolo of Wyoming, left, a speech-language pathology graduate student at Misericordia University, poses with her faculty mentor, Professor Cari M. Tellis, Ph.D., C.C.C.-S.L.P., after she received the 2019 Von Drach Memorial Scholarship from the Pennsylvania Speech-Language Hearing Association at the 60th annual convention in Lancaster in April.