Lauren Calandruccio's family members don't buy presents for one another at Christmas. No way. Instead, they donate to charities each has researched and selected. Lauren always chooses the American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation. No one's going to tell her otherwise—not only is she deeply passionate and persuasive about the Foundation's mission and impact, she's got a black belt in tae kwon do. "Don't mess with me, seriously," she declares, grinning.
Indeed. Today, Calandruccio is an energetic, dedicated
professor in the department of Allied Health Sciences at the University of
North Carolina-Chapel Hill. She's engaged in pioneering research involving why some complex listening environments make it more difficult than others for listeners to recognize speech correctly. "My hope," Calandruccio says, "is that my research eventually will help improve listeners' ability to understand speech in noise regardless of their native language."
She's collaborating with Lori Leibold and Emily Buss, two other scientists also interested in understanding speech perception in complex listening environments. Calandruccio readily acknowledges that she is "really excited about this new opportunity." And why not? She's in a position to conduct research that makes a real difference.
The road to such professional prospects, however, is often
long. In Calandruccio's case, the ASHFoundation repeatedly helped pave the way, providing Calandruccio crucial support through two awards as a graduate student and then again when she was carrying out postdoctoral research. Count 'em off, there's a bundle—she's an ASHFoundation 2005 and 2007 research grant recipient and a 2006 scholarship recipient.
She's never forgotten those years and that support. "I have been impressed with the board, the staff and the mission of the Foundation since I was first introduced to the organization as a young graduate student," Calandruccio remembers. "The Foundation is devoted to improving the quality of life of both children and adults with communication disorders. This was one reason I found the Foundation to be a perfect choice for holiday giving."
Calandruccio's enthusiasm for the professions is infectious. "I am proud of our fields. I want to see speech-language pathology and audiology continue to grow, continue to gain respect from other health care providers, and continue to recruit top students." Great sentiment—but what can any of us do to actually help the professions make more and more of a difference?
Plenty—and it's simple. Calandruccio's experience with the Foundation as a student gives her a lasting appreciation for its special, important role in the future of the professions. "We not only have to be good clinicians and researchers, but also be willing to mentor the next generation of clinicians and clinician/scientists. It's imperative that we have scholarships and grants available to talented students making decisions about their career choices. Importantly, we must be willing to provide financial support for the next generation of our profession."
Are we up to Calandruccio's challenge? Through each holiday donation to the ASHFoundation, she and her family help guarantee that those who have communication disorders in the decades ahead—perhaps some of our own grandchildren and great-grandchildren—will receive the treatment and research support they need. A donation pays forward to support the many researchers and clinicians to come.
Build the professions' future by giving to the ASHFoundation today. You can join Calandruccio and her family in supporting the next generation of professionals by making a gift to the ASHFoundation online or by calling 301-296-8704.