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Graduate student earns Kensel Giddings Award

Dec. 21, 2007

KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University graduate student Carolyn Kennedy of Jenison, Mich., has won an award from a special fund established by a Paw Paw, Mich., family to promote better communication options for people with stroke-induced language problems.

Kennedy, a first-year graduate student in speech-language pathology, has been selected to receive the Kensel Giddings Award in Aphasia Education for the 2007-08 academic year. Aphasia is an impairment of the ability to use or comprehend words, usually acquired as a result of a stroke or other brain injury.

Criteria for the $650 award includes a strong interest in aphasia, a planned graduate course of study leading to a career in aphasia rehabilitation and prior experience as a community volunteer.

Kennedy, a 2003 graduate of Unity Christian High School in Hudsonville, Mich., is the daughter of Rick and Deb Kennedy of Jenison. She earned her bachelor's degree in speech-language pathology and Spanish in 2007 from Calvin College.

During the academic year, Kennedy will work with Sandra Glista, master clinical faculty specialist in the WMU Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology, to bring the documentary film the "Stroke of Genius" and the musician Marc Black to WMU. "Stroke of Genius," directed by Bahman Soltani, is a film about Dan Mountain, a successful advertising writer from California who spent 21 days in a coma after a stroke. Mountain wrote poetry about his struggle with aphasia, which Black put to music and recorded for a CD also titled, "Stroke of Genius." For more information on aphasia, please visit the National Aphasia Association's Web site, www.aphasia.org.

Media contact: Deanne Molinari, (269) 387-8400, deanne.molinari@wmich.edu

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