Copen, set to graduate in August, hopes to practice in acute care hospital setting
February 11, 2009
Jennifer Copen, a second year student in the Arnold School's Department of Communication Sciences and Disorder, is the 2009 winner of the John Luehrs Annual Fellowship Award.
Luehrs, who died in 2006, was national coordinator for health and long-term care issues in the AARP's Department of State Affairs. His friends and colleagues established the fellowship in his memory in 2007.
Crystal Murphree-Holden, one of Copen's clinical instructors and COMD's director of distance education, nominated her for the fellowship. A selection committee named by Arnold School Interim Dean Tom Chandler signed off on the recommendation.
In her nomination, Murphree-Holden noted that Copen achieved a 3.963 to 4.0 GPA over six semesters in COMD's highly competitive graduate degree program.
"In addition to academic classes which cover areas such as neuroanatomy and physiology, stroke, laryngeal function, child and adult language disorders, apraxia, cleft palate, autism, and literacy, students are required to complete at least 400 clinical practicum hours serving children and adults with communication disorders," said Murphree-Holden.
Copen met the academic requirement at the same time doing additional clinical rotations and holding down a job outside the university. Additionally, she also works as a graduate assistant for Dr. Heather Bonilha, a COMD research assistant professor.
"It was definitely a surprise," Copen said after she was notified of the honor. "I felt very humbled that the faculty in my department believed so highly in me that I deserved this award."
Copen – "Jenny" to her friends -- is a longtime Columbia resident. She finished Columbia High School and graduated from USC with a bachelor's degree in psychology. Her husband Alan is a sales representative for Lance Inc., the giant snack food manufacturer based in Charlotte.
Copen said her interest in speech pathology was peaked when her undergraduate studies in psychology touched on the development of speech and language.
She expects to graduate from the Arnold School in August and afterward "to practice in an acute care hospital setting working with patients with feeding and swallowing difficulties."