Tuesday, October 01, 2013
Contact: Megan Archer, Alumni and Outreach Coordinator, College of Health Professions 304-696-2616

Marshall graduate student chosen as PROGENY research finalist

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – A Marshall University student has been chosen as a finalist for the American Speech-Language Hearing Association’s (ASHA) 6th annual PROGENY research program Nov. 13-17 in Chicago, Ill.

Sara Henson, 22, of Harts, W.Va., is a first-year graduate assistant in the Marshall University Department of Communication Disorders. Henson conducted her research on the social, political and cultural considerations of individuals with disabilities in Appalachia. She will share this research in a poster presentation during the annual ASHA conference in November.

“PROGENY stands for PROmoting the future GENeration of researchers,” said Dr. Karen McComas, assistant director for the Center for Teaching and Learning. “That is exactly what we do at Marshall – we have created CoRP, our Community of Research Practice, to encourage our students to engage in research projects which allow them to pursue an academic-research career.”

Henson said she started her research project “just to explore my own curiosities about my field and discover other research ideas.”

“The primary aim for the study was to develop an understanding of the lives of people with disabilities and how the Appalachian culture affects their experiences,” Henson said. “When I started the research project, it wasn’t to get an award or to be a presenter at ASHA.”

Henson is one of four students chosen from Marshall to attend this year’s ASHA conference, McComas said. Graduate students in the Department of Communication Disorders, Megan Foster, Hillary Johnson and Jordan Lewis, will join Henson at the conference to present their own research projects.

McComas, who also serves as a professor of communication disorders, said the department’s Community of Research Practice group is the main way these students learn about research and the opportunities offered through the PROGENY program.

McComas said developing research skills enhances a student’s clinical capabilities and prepares them to be evidence-based practitioners. Since the Community of Research Practice group began in 2008, Marshall has had six students represented in the PROGENY program in the past five years.

“No matter the size of your school or department, it is possible to have a distinct and important impact on a whole discipline,” McComas said. “We are very proud of our involvement with this organization because it highlights the work done by our students who do it because they love it, not because they have to.”

The Community of Research Practice sessions are held at 9 a.m. every Friday in Smith Hall 113 on the Huntington campus.  Students can learn more about these sessions by visiting online. To find out more about ASHA, visit, or to learn about PROGENY, visit online. 

For further information, contact:  Office of University Communications
Marshall University | 213 Old Main | Huntington, WV 25755-1090
Fax: (304) 696-3197