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Members of the Huntington Scottish Rite Foundation board and the Marshall University Department of Communication Disorders were presented with a $50,000 check from the AEP Foundation to be used to establish the STEM Speech-Language Pathology Simulation Laboratory on Marshall’s Huntington campus. First row, from left to right: Megan Archer, Pam Holland, Steve Stewart, Ken Bannon, Paul Davis, Kathy Chezik and Larry Bolling; second row, from left to right: Jim Lackey, Ernay Adams, Matthew Hensley, Becky Meade and Chad Lovejoy.

HUNTINGTON — The American Electric Power Foundation has awarded $50,000 to the Huntington Scottish Rite Foundation in support of Marshall University’s Department of Communication Disorders and its Speech and Hearing Center.

Steve Stewart, director of external affairs for Appalachian Power, said Marshall’s Department of Communication Disorders is providing the type of education that serves as the foundation of brighter futures for our communities.

“The AEP Foundation supports programs in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), which hold promise of future innovations. We believe this was a perfect merger of missions, and we are proud to provide this funding because we know it will be put to good use.”

Pam Holland, chair of the department, said the funds will be used to establish the STEM Speech-Language Pathology Simulation Laboratory, which will house state-of-the-art equipment for undergraduate and graduate students to learn firsthand how technology can be utilized in the field of speech-language pathology.

“With this grant support, students will have the chance to learn more about assistive technology, speech-generating devices, simulation mannequins, electromyography (EMG), the Iowa Oral Performance Instrument (IOPI), neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) instruments and the Swallow Strong device, as well as equipment for telehealth for other disorders,” Holland said.

Holland said that, not only will the grant funding enhance the educational opportunities for Marshall University students for years to come, but also the equipment in the new laboratory will provide specialized telehealth services to individuals in rural communities.

“The MUSHC is presently offering telehealth services to clients who have the necessary technology. However, the number of health care services we are able to provide is vastly limited by the fact that several of our clients do not have the necessary devices to remain connected with MUSHC and receive the critical care they need. Additional equipment will allow for the expansion of services to all families, particularly those who have compromised immune systems or lack access to telecommunication technology.”

Holland said the science and technology of the field of speech-language pathology is often overlooked by high school students considering careers. In the summer of 2021, a STEM speech-language pathology summer camp will be held to engage rising sophomores and juniors in a variety of activities and which will highlight how various equipment is utilized to assess and treat communication and swallowing disorders.

“On behalf of the Huntington Scottish Rite Foundation, the Marshall University Department of Communication Disorders and the Speech and Hearing Center, we would like to express our sincere gratitude to all of the members of the AEP Foundation for acknowledging our vision and ideas,” she said. “We would also like to give a special thanks to Steve Stewart, who has supported our academic program and our foundation for many years. Great things are coming to Marshall, and we are very excited to get started.”

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