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SLP Faculty, TC Administrators Receive Humanitarian Award for Work in Ghana

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Published: 3/12/2012 10:29:00 AM

On March 3, the National Council of Ghanaian Associations, Inc. (NCOGA) gave its 2012 Humanitarian Award to Dr. Cate Crowley, Miriam Baigorri, Teachers College President Susan H. Fuhrman, and TC Provost and Dean Thomas James. The award recognizes their “dedicated and devoted services to the disabled children and higher institutions in Ghana.” The award was presented to Crowley and Baigorra by Ghana’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Ken Kanda.

The Teachers College Speech-Language Pathology (SLP) Ghana program is in its fifth year. Each year since 2008, Crowley and Baigorri have brought 18 master’s students in the SLP program to Ghana to provide free services for children and adults with communications disorders, and to provide professional development for their Ghanaian colleagues. While in Ghana, the TC group collaborates with teachers of students with intellectual disabilities. They also work with the Ear, Nose and Throat departments and cleft palate teams in the two teaching hospitals in Ghana. In addition, they appear in various media outlets to share information about disabilities to increase the understanding of the potential of Ghanaians with disabilities.

NCOGA also recognized the significant benefits this program brings to Ghanaians in New York. When they return, the SLP students have a deeper understanding of how to provide quality services to those from diverse backgrounds, especially to Ghanaian-Americans. They were honored at the Ghanaian Council’s 55th Scholarship and Recognition Benefit Gala, held in Yonkers.

Crowley is a Distinguished Senior lecturer in the SLP program at Teachers College and Director of the Ghana program. Baigorri, Clinical Director of the Ghana program, is an instructor and clinical supervisor in the SLP program at TC. During her tenure, President Fuhrman has greatly expanded international initiatives at Teachers College, where the Ghana program was first conceived and developed. Provost James has provided continued support, including a Provost Investment Fund Grant that partially funded the first trip to Ghana in February 2008.

The Teachers College Speech-Language Pathology Ghana Program also receives funding from other organizations, including the Wyncote Foundation, Central Coast Children's Foundation, and Rotary International.

Four of the 18 students who went this year in January to Ghana—Valerie Bazile, Shemaiah Villani, Christin Chambers, and Charity Delsie—attended the awards ceremony. They were accompanied by documentary filmmaker Skye MacLeod, who chronicled the trip. (See MacLeod’s short films here, here, and here.)

“It was an extraordinary evening,” says Crowley. “Before we arrived, we had no idea that the level of recognition we were to receive. They played three of our DVDs of the trip and there were so many photographers and videographers recording the event that it felt like a Hollywood awards ceremony (or at least as close as two speech language pathologists ever get to that!)”

The Speech and Language Pathology program is coordinated by John H. Saxman, Professor of Speech and Language Pathology in the Department of Biobehavioral Sciences. It prepares master’s students for careers as speech-language pathologists in a variety of settings, including community speech and hearing centers, schools, rehabilitation centers, hospitals, and private practice. In addition to the international experience in Ghana, the SLP program also has annual student clinical opportunities in Cambodia and Bolivia.

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