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Faculty Empowerment: Collaboration and Dedication Soar

When Samantha McDaniel, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, assistant professor in Georgia Southern University’s Department of Clinical Sciences in the Waters College of Health Professions, recently received the Professional Achievement Award by the Georgia Speech-Language-Hearing Association (GSHA), it was the culmination of faculty supporting faculty thanks to a nomination from Tory Candea, clinical coordinator of the RiteCare Center for Communication Disorders.

Samantha McDaniel, Ph.D., CCC-SLP

Teamwork among faculty members creates an atmosphere of collaboration that can demonstrate to students how to work together effectively and come up with solutions, similar to how they would if they were in jobs of their own. Fostering this team environment also means that individuals who deserve recognition are given their time in the spotlight.

“Georgia Southern University is home to many talented and dedicated faculty and staff members. Dr. McDaniel’s exceptional contributions to the Communication Sciences and Disorders program have distinguished her as an outstanding faculty member. Her unwavering commitment to teamwork, innovative thinking, and extraordinary work ethic make her the perfect candidate for this award,” said Candea. “Recognizing the contributions of individuals like Dr. McDaniel not only honors her achievements but also serves as an inspiration to our students and a testament to the values we uphold at Georgia Southern.”

Their constant communication is just one example of teamwork that makes faculty engaged with not only their students, but their coworkers as well.

“As Program Director, Dr. Candea and I work very closely to ensure the success of our students as they grow their knowledge and skills to become competent speech-language pathologists,” said McDaniel. “We also commit to providing the best care for the clients in the RiteCare Center for Communication Disorders (RCC), which is the program’s on-campus speech and hearing clinic, where we serve children and adults from our community who have communication disorders.”

McDaniel, who started her career working in hospitals, mainly helping people communicate and swallow after brain injuries, was drawn to Georgia Southern in the course of her studies.

“I started supervising graduate students,” said McDaniel. “I realized that I really enjoyed teaching and researching, which led me to earn my Ph.D. in interdisciplinary health sciences. Georgia Southern stood out to me as an excellent place to begin my full-time teaching career for a few reasons. Having an on-campus clinic is vital to providing our students with the experiences they need to be successful as they venture out to their external community placements. I also really appreciate the possibilities for interdisciplinary collaboration. With so many health profession majors on campus, the students are presented with diverse learning opportunities that closely simulate real-world clinical experiences. Lastly, the people here at Georgia Southern are exceptional. I have felt so welcomed and supported by my colleagues. The students are genuine and kind-hearted; it is my pleasure to teach them.”

McDaniel teaches both undergraduate and graduate classes in clinical methods, speech science and disorders of early childhood language, acquired neurogenic communication, voice, cognitive-communication and motor speech.

“I take this job very seriously, because the ultimate goal is for these students to become future clinicians, who will be impacting patients’ lives. In order for students to succeed in learning and not simply memorize material to earn a grade, I believe that you first need adequate engagement,” said McDaniel. “To support this, I love to share stories that I have accumulated over my 20 years of clinical work. I am very fortunate to love what I do for a living. By using these case studies, I hope that my passion for the field of speech-language pathology and for helping people with communication disorders is palpable and infectious.”

McDaniel believes the teamwork atmosphere that allows her area to thrive is a testament to the faculty who are also engaged in clinical work.

“The field of speech-language pathology is broad, making it difficult to be an expert in all areas. Whether it’s sharing best practices, consulting on complex cases, or coordinating research and grant initiatives, teamwork is ingrained in our daily interactions. Tory and I are in constant communication, so we can stand as a united front and prioritize the holistic development of our students,” said McDaniel. “Overall, demonstrating this model of collaboration is yet another way to teach our students positive behaviors that they can take with them as they begin their careers.”

The RiteCare® Center for Communication Disorders at Georgia Southern is the primary RiteCare facility in the Savannah area. The center is supported by an annual contribution from the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite Savannah Valley in keeping with the national philanthropic program of the Scottish Rite Masons to support speech and hearing clinics. The center is staffed by students pursuing their master’s degrees in speech-language pathology in the Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSDS) program at Georgia Southern. Supervision is provided by CSDS program faculty, all of whom are certified by the American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA) and licensed by the State Board of Examiners in Speech Language Pathology and Audiology.

Last updated: 4/29/2024