Mickey Mouse and the ASHFoundation Launch a Career The ASHFoundation recently sat down with one of its donors, Kenn Apel, to learn why he’s so passionate about the ASHFoundation. Kenn Apel is an impressive guy—31 years in academia, (still) passionate about his work, chair of the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of South Carolina ... ASHA News
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ASHA News  |   June 01, 2018
Mickey Mouse and the ASHFoundation Launch a Career
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ASHA News & Member Stories / ASHA News
ASHA News   |   June 01, 2018
Mickey Mouse and the ASHFoundation Launch a Career
The ASHA Leader, June 2018, Vol. 23, 66. doi:10.1044/leader.AN7.23062018.66
The ASHA Leader, June 2018, Vol. 23, 66. doi:10.1044/leader.AN7.23062018.66
The ASHFoundation recently sat down with one of its donors, Kenn Apel, to learn why he’s so passionate about the ASHFoundation.
Kenn Apel is an impressive guy—31 years in academia, (still) passionate about his work, chair of the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of South Carolina and, the latest of his honors, a three-year research grant from the Institute of Education Sciences (IES).
So what’s he talking about when he says, “I almost dedicated my dissertation to Mickey Mouse”?
Right out of high school, Apel worked at Disneyland selling balloons and popcorn. Among his customers were people who were deaf, and he was frustrated that he couldn’t communicate with them. So, in his first semester of college at San Diego State University, he took a sign language class and volunteered at a school for the deaf where he met his first “speech therapist.”
He had no clue then about her profession, but after shadowing her briefly, Apel envisioned his future taking shape. While still at San Diego (he later earned his PhD at Memphis State University, now the University of Memphis), he met his wife, Lynda, a student in the Deaf Education Department—she was taking the sign language lab that Apel was teaching. Destiny? Maybe. But Apel credits the Mouse.
From those beginnings, Apel discovered a fascination with child language. More specifically, he is interested in the formation of orthographic and morphological awareness, two linguistic skills that contribute to word-level reading and spelling. The IES grant supports Apel’s current research project to develop a morphological awareness test.
Mickey Mouse may have steered Apel to his choice of career, but the American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation support is responsible for its early sustenance. When he received a graduate student grant in 1985, Apel remembers feeling “incredibly humbled and grateful.” Since that time, he says, “I’ve felt the desire to give back because I know personally the good it does in the life of a student or young researcher to be honored as the recipient of an ASHFoundation award. I want to contribute to that.
“I believe in our profession and I want others to experience the joys and successes that I have experienced,” he says. “The scholarships help students when they’re most in need. We need to support our students and help them stay in our profession.”
Apel adds that “the ASHFoundation is a great mechanism for contributing in honor of a friend or colleague. Several times friends have donated in my honor, and I’ve been truly touched. It’s a great way to say ‘thank you’ or ‘congratulations’ and at the same time support the future of our work.”
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FROM THIS ISSUE
June 2018
Volume 23, Issue 6