Hi everyone! I’m Madeleine. It is truly a pleasure to meet and speak with you all today. I am just one of the many grateful students who has benefited from your financial contributions this year, and today I want to share with you a little about myself, my aspirations, and how the scholarship I received has made a significant difference in my life.
I grew up in Brevard, North Carolina with my three younger siblings and a large variety of pets. I am an avid reader who enjoys theology, fantasy, and everything in-between, and an outdoor enthusiast who finds respite in hikes and rock-climbing.
A variety of personal aspirations drew me to the field of speech-language pathol-ogy, but first and foremost was my desire to help performers overcome vocal dysfunction. As a classically-trained vocalist, I have experienced vocal dysfunc-tion in deeply-personal contexts. My performances as an undergraduate student at Belmont University were often overshadowed by vocal fatigue and pain. I grew to learn that there were many reasons for this (muscular tension was primary, but my poor posture, sleep, and nutrition were contributors as well). As I learned more about the field of speech-language pathology, I real-ized that I could combine my experiences as a performer with a clinical degree that would help me prevent other performers from making the same mistakes that I made.
When I began in the speech-language pathology graduate program at App State, I realized that I could expand my goal from providing therapeutic services to performers, to working with people of all ages and walks of life whose communicative struggles were the result of a variety of diagnoses. I found myself supported in this academic jour-ney by some of the most exceptional professors with whom I have ever had the pleasure of working. Learning from these professors, reading relevant literature, and learning from the phenomenal clinical advisors I have had so far in the program has transformed and affirmed my goal of “one day working with performers” into the goal of founding my own clinic.
My vision is for a voice-specific clinic that caters to a variety of people who experience vocal and communicative dysfunction, but specializes in rehabilitating the voices of performing artists. It’s still a fledgling idea, but your generosity made it possible for me to take time to consider, dream, and plan my professional future, instead of constantly worrying about my finances.
I think it’s important to quantify what this scholarship has meant to me, materially. It was five months’ rent! Al-most half a year in a wonderful, warm space with a fantastic roommate. It was five months of relief, knowing that checking my bank account wouldn’t automatically result in a panic attack. Five months of knowing that I could afford to occasionally say “no” to employment opportunities, and instead spend that time studying or catching up on some much-needed sleep. Your generosity enabled me to invest my time in learning, and that learning will make me a better clinician, and (I hope) radically improve the quality of the therapy that I will one day provide for my clients.
I know that I speak for myself and my fellow students when I say that it is a supreme honor to be supported by you, to learn from you, and to share in this beautiful place that you call home. Thank you for choosing to invest your hard-earned money in the students who attend Appalachian State University. As Benjamin Franklin once wrote, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

Note… Ms. Lefler is a past recipient of the Hillery H. Rink, Jr. Scottish Rite Graduate Scholarship for Speech-Language Pathology