March 7, 2016 | Erin Bluvas, firstname.lastname@example.org
Danielle Varnedoe, Senior Clinical Instructor and Director of the USC Speech and Hearing Research Center within the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, has won the Honors of the Association award from the South Carolina Speech-Language-Hearing Association (SCSHA). As the highest honor that SCSHA bestows, the Honors of the Association is awarded annually to an individual who has made distinguished contributions to the field of speech-language pathology (see Varnedoe’s award video).
She originally wanted to become a teacher of the hearing impaired when she began studying for her bachelor’s degree at the University of Akron. “On the advice of my undergraduate advisor, I took an introduction course in the Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and I was hooked!” she says. “With so many different types of communication disorders to work with in the field, I changed my course of learning to the field of speech-language pathology. I have loved it ever since.”
Varnedoe went on to earn a Master’s in Speech Pathology at the same university and joined the University of South Carolina as a clinical instructor in the COMD department in 1983. More than three decades later, her passion for the field of communication sciences and disorders continues to grow. In 2001, she took on the role of director for the department’s USC Speech and Hearing Research Center, which has thrived under her guidance.
“The high quality of this USC Speech and Hearing Research Center is really due to Danielle’s leadership,” says COMD Chair Kenn Apel. “She continues to lead in an excellent, top-notch manner, ensuring that the Center works every day in the best manner possible. We all—faculty, staff, students and patients—respect and value her.”
Today, the Center holds 6,000 patient visits and logs approximately 225 patient outreach hours every year. They assist individuals of all ages with problems, such as articulation, fluency, voice, language, literacy and hearing, and even hold an annual fundraiser to help make their specialized care available to all of their patients. Varnedoe oversees all operations to give the best care possible to patients while also contributing to the clinical instruction and mentorship needed to educate COMD master’s students—the next generation of speech-language pathologists. And while interprofessional education is a topic of growing importance on USC’s campus, it was Varnedoe who had the insight and initiative to spearhead an interprofessional practice event among the health science disciplines.
“I can think of no one who has made a stronger daily contribution to the field of speech-language pathology than our own Danielle Varnedoe,” says Thomas Chandler, Dean of the Arnold School. “I am very grateful—especially for her daily sacrifice for our students and the Center’s patients—and she should feel certain that her life and her career have made a very strong, meaningful impact for those experiencing communication disorders in this world.”
The Arnold School Faculty Service Award winner (2013) is also generous with her time and talents outside the Arnold School. Varnedoe has been involved with SCSHA since 1989, chairing various committees, organizing the annual conference, and serving on the board. Her current SCSHA role, fittingly, is Vice President of Higher Education. She’s also been recognized with the organization’s DiCarlo Award for Outstanding Clinical Achievement (2004) and its Frank R. Kleffner Clinical Career Award (2014).
But Varnedoe’s service extends beyond SCSHA to other aspects of her profession. She is an active contributor to BabyNet, S.C.’s interagency early intervention system for infants and toddlers with developmental delays. Varnedoe has also played integral roles for various collaborative efforts throughout the state, such as the Department of Education’s Task Force on Regulations for Speech-Language Pathologists in the Schools.
Through all of her service efforts and years of excelling in both strategically forming partnerships and programming as well as executing the day-to-day details of serving her patients and educating students, Varnedoe’s commitment to her field has remained steadfast. “I believe that one has to have passion about what they do or what they do becomes ‘just a job,’” she says. “Being committed to your profession through service is essential to ensure the growth of your profession and of yourself.”