Heather Long always thought she would become a speech pathologist dedicated to serving children, just like the woman who made a difference in the life of her brother who has Down syndrome.
Instead, a chance encounter during a class assignment in the SIUE School of Education's Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic changed Heather's outlook and her future. The experience gave a new focus: Helping adults affected by life-altering afflictions.
During her fifth year in the speech pathology program, Heather began working with a 47-year-old woman who had a stroke. As a result, the client suffered from Aphasia - an inability to speak that caused the woman to withdraw from friends and family.
In SIUE's Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic, Heather was able to help her client find her voice again and reconnect with family and friends through supported communication techniques.
"She was very involved with her family and friends, but after the stroke it took her down a notch," Heather said. "In addition to Aphasia, her right side was paralyzed. She can still move and walk with a cane, but it limits her mobility. To give her something back like language really meant a lot of her."
Contributions to the Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic - a community resource that provides diagnostic and speech-language therapy to individuals of all ages - helps SIUE students like Heather prepare for careers of the future.
"Without the clinical experience here on campus, I would be lost," Heather said. "It helped me get a feel for everything I need to know when working with clients.
"A gift to SIUE means so much - it's not just one person who benefits. A donation benefits the lives of students and patients. Everything we use makes us better therapists and results in better outcomes for our clients. The more we do here, the better therapists we are when we go out into the community."