CSD Student Receives UW-Madison L&S Leadership Award

Gracie Turner
Gracie Turner

Congratulations to CSD senior Gracie Turner, recipient of the 2023-24 Cyrena Pondrom Leadership Award.

This leadership award is based on a leadership project proposal and awarded through the L&S Faculty Honors Committee. Professor Pondrom is an emerita professor of English who was instrumental in getting the Leadership Award established in the first place; the initial donor named it in her honor, and she has contributed generously to fund it. In addition to a supply budget of up to $3,000, the award comes with two semesters of in-state tuition.


The Wisconsin Idea Task Force (WITF) is a newly created entity within the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association (NSSLHA) UW-Madison chapter. WITF was established to carry out the three main pillars of diversity, outreach, and inclusion. Their mission is to expand and diversify representation within the professions of Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD) by providing engaging educational opportunities for high school students from underrepresented populations to explore this field.

The Project

As a member of WITF, Gracie’s proposal identified three committed partners: NSSLHA/WITF, the Department of CSD, and the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County. Gracie’s project includes a leadership role required to build a sustainable and iterative program of community engagement and to expand educational opportunities in the CSD field for high schoolers in and around Madison, Wisconsin. Proposed activities include interactive community presentations, on-campus learning opportunities, and the providing groundwork for a yearly paid summer internship at UW-Madison in a CSD affiliate research lab.

Gracie and the WITF will partner with the Boys and Girls Club to provide professional development opportunities and to set up a summer internship through the already established AVID/TOPS internship program. This summer (2024) a student intern will work with Associate Professor Ben Parrell at the Waisman Center. The chosen intern will actively participate in assigned research tasks and will be given opportunities to learn more about the field through planned lab tours and clinical observation experiences. Members of the WITF will support the intern by providing mentorship within the lab and facilitating interactions with CSD students and faculty, ultimately ensuring that they feel welcomed and comfortable within a higher education space.

The L&S Honors scholarship committee found Gracie’s project well-conceived and are highly enthusiastic about the goals of the proposed activities.

Congratulations Gracie! And good luck in your new leadership role!