The Harold Powell Speech and Hearing Clinic offers free speech, language and hearing services for adults and children in Orangeburg and surrounding areas. The services are offered and performed by South Carolina State University speech pathology and audiology undergraduate and graduate students preparing for their externships.

“Most schools don’t have a clinic on campus, and if they do – we may be the only one that allow undergraduates to participate. We’re getting the experience now. We get different clients, different clinical educators so they bring their knowledge. We get the whole package,” undergraduate student Jyla Lee said.

Shirlain J. Darby, director of the Harold Powell Speech and Hearing Clinic and two-time SC State graduate, has practiced speech pathology for over 30 years. She is elated with the progression and future of the clinic for the students and the program.

“The clinic is like their second home because when they’re in speech pathology and audiology, all of those skills that they’ve learned in the classroom, they get to apply them here,” Darby said.

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The clinic provides a local opportunity for students to gain their curriculum-required clock hours. Externships give participants practical experiences working with clients with various disorders.

They do so while providing experience with clients coming in with an array of disorders.

“Some have difficulty with articulation, which is sound production. There may be some difficulty with language skills in both children and or adults,” Darby said. “And also we serve adults who may have difficulty with cognitive issues, for example, stroke victims, Parkinson’s, and so forth.”

While gaining real-world work experience, students working in the clinic give back to surrounding communities, which is a major plus for them.

“My very first time, I was a little nervous. We both were nervous because I didn’t know what to expect. He didn’t know what to expect. When I built rapport with him, it got a lot better. And he was excited about therapy,” graduate student Shula Brailsford said. ”He is 11 and he told me one day I used my strategies in school, and I felt so much better about it. So just being able to see improvement and then having them tell you that they use what you taught them, I thought that’s like a bit of a hurrah moment for the client and for me.

Offering diagnostic services like screenings and evaluations and therapy services for speech-language disorders, the program makes the time spent worthwhile. The clinic is seen less as a job and more as a tool for what the future holds for the program’s students.

“All the skills, they are practicing working with clients so they’re able to perform those skills when they go out to the different sites – and ultimately get their degree and go off to working on their own,” Darby said.

Te’Dajia Davenport, senior speech pathology and audiology major from Aiken, South Carolina, is grateful for the clinic because it has allowed her to pursue her passion for working with kids without having to major in education.

“Follow your heart and always keep the faith and stay encouraged because it’s really easy, especially if you’re in school, to get discouraged,” Davenport said.

All students who attend SC State must take the English Proficiency Exam in order to graduate. Graduate and undergraduate students in the Harold Powell Speech and Hearing Clinic are responsible for delivering the speech and hearing portions of the English proficiency exam. $1 for the first 26 weeks

The clinic is always accepting referrals from local schools, physicians’ offices and private citizens who are interested in receiving speech and language services.

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