Department of Communication Disorders celebrates donor and mentor

Students and faculty of the Department of Communication Disorders help others find their words, but it is not often these students and faculty who assist in the speech and language development of patients who are speechless themselves.

However, the mentorship and donations made by an alumnus of the department left students feeling at a loss for words.

Dan Garrett is a 1972 graduate of the department and made a gift of $100,000.  Garrett gives back to his alma mater and to the program by helping fund scholarships and educational experiences for students.

The money donated is split into two funds — $75,000 for the Sally Garrett Walters Memorial Scholarship program and $25,000 for support of student educational experiences including three future study abroad trips.

“Dan exemplifies the spirit of giving back,” Dr. Karen McNealy, department chair, said. “Through Dan’s generosity, students will find an additional means of financial support for their education.”

The Jamaica trip and other educational experiences with ASHA, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, cost thousands of dollars and can be hard for students to commit to because of the financial obligation. Garrett’s contributions give students an opportunity they would not be able to afford on their own.

Senior graduate student Lindsey Miller said she already appreciates the gift made by Garrett.

“I hope others see the spirit in which Dan has made his gift and are inspired to contribute to the department as well,” Miller said.

Miller went on the Jamaica trip and the ASHA convention and said the experiences allowed her to put into practice what she has been learning in the classroom. “Overall, I feel these extracurricular experiences prepared me to be a well-rounded and educated professional in the world of speech pathology and it wouldn’t have been made possible without help from people like Dan Garrett,” Miller said.

The department of communication disorders is accepting a check from Garrett on Friday at noon in the Foundation Hall. Students and faculty honor Garrett with a reception following in Smith Hall room 143 after the check presentation.

“We are hoping to have a large group of students attend the reception and thank Mr. Garrett for his support within our program,” Holly Jude of the department said.

The department thanks Dan Garrett for allowing it to gain educational experiences while allowing it to provide others with an essential tool in our society – the ability to communicate.

Elayna Conard can be contacted at [email protected].