CSD professor, students again make difference in Guatemala

From left to right: Rose Heckenkamp, Kaylee Cullen, Allison Petska, Nicole Breunig, Ruby Braxton, Amanda Murphy, Caitlin Klukas, Arielle Benson, and clinical associate professor Michelle Quinn.

For the second straight year, clinical associate professor Michelle Quinn and a group of graduate students from the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders assisted in literacy efforts in Guatemala over winter break.

Quinn and eight bilingual graduate students – Rose Heckenkamp, Kaylee Cullen, Allison Petska, Nicole Breunig, Ruby Braxton, Amanda Murphy, Caitlin Klukas and Arielle Benson – traveled to Antigua, Guatemala, for the service-learning project. The Emma M. Allen Speech Pathology Fellowship Fund covered the students’ travel expenses.

The students conducted pre- and post-testing to help Common Hope, a nonprofit that operates in Guatemala, evaluate a parent-child pre-literacy program targeted at impoverished families in communities outside Antigua. The long-term goal of the project is to help reduce the number of children who do not pass first grade (currently one out of three).

The Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders hopes to create a for-credit international practicum course in the near future to live out the Wisconsin Idea abroad.

Quinn received the WSHA Outstanding Service Award by the Wisconsin Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology Association in February 2012 for her work in Guatemala.

Quinn traces her initial interest in the Common Hope project to a burgeoning desire to work with the poor. She had followed this impulse in her personal life, volunteering with underserved populations, and gradually the thinking began to permeate her professional life as well.

“I had this long-standing heart’s desire to take what we do so well here in Wisconsin and share it more broadly,” she said last fall. “I am constantly inspired by the idealism of the younger generation, and how much UW students want to make a difference both on campus and elsewhere. I realized this was a direction I could take our CSD students.”

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