Gift allows CSULB Speech-Language Clinic to continue to impact the community

Published February 6, 2023

The hit-and-run accident was devastating. Finding a place to help her son regain his communication skills after the accident was harder still for Marsha Solis until she met Dr. Pei-Fang Hung.

Hung, the chair of the Speech-Language Pathology department, invited Solis to bring her son to the Speech-Language Clinic at Cal State Long Beach, where clients receive diagnostic and therapeutic services free of cost to children and adults with communication disorders. 

“I am so happy to have found and met Dr. Pei-Fang,” said Solis, who lives in Harbor City. “When I started my son here, I could tell the students and technicians were on every detail and followed up each day. 

“I feel more helpful that they can help my son, so he can be more spontaneous in his speech.”  

Solis’ son, Von Miguel, 29, suffered a traumatic brain injury after being struck by a car while crossing the street five years ago. The accident left him without the ability to communicate. Today, after coming to the CSULB clinic for two-plus years, Von Miguel has limited verbal conversations and uses gestures to get his points across. 

“This place has given him more confidence to initiate conversations,” Marsha Solis said. 

The Speech-Language and Pathology department recently partnered with The RiteCare Childhood Language Center of Long Beach, bringing the community clinic onto the CSULB campus. A major gift from the California Scottish Rite Foundation, which funds RiteCare centers across the United States, enabled The Beach to extend clinical services, add additional hours and client rooms, and better train future speech-language pathologists to meet the high demand of the community. 

Thanks to the support, the clinic and other programs at The Beach can continue their impactful work to elevate the community, advance the public good and offer students immersive learning opportunities, priorities of the university's No Barriers comprehensive campaign. 

“For me, it was hugely important to establish a partnership with an organization that is well-respected in the community and that made the university the perfect partner,” said Arthur L. Salazar Jr., executive vice president/secretary of the board of the Scottish Rite Foundation. 

Child playing with Mr. Potato Head
At the CSULB Speech-Language Clinic, students help young clients with their communications skills by using various verbal and physical tools, such as toys.

Salazar called the partnership a “double win.” 

“The children get the help they need, and the students get the hands-on clinical hours they need for their license. … To me it was something that made perfect sense from a strategic standpoint and a community engagement standpoint.” 

At the Speech-Language Clinic, graduate-student clinicians provide evaluation and therapy services under the supervision of certified faculty members. It is a hands-on environment that deepens the learning experiences of CSULB students as they contribute to the community, working with stroke clients, autistic children and others with communication disorders. 

“Because of the gift, we have the potential to grow the number of patients that we can serve," said Hung, adding that it also enables the clinic to allow more students to get clinical experience. 

“The ultimate goal is student success, right?” Hung said. “We want to make sure students get the skills and knowledge to be successful, and with that gift we can keep the clinic up and running so they can do their clinical hours to meet the program requirement and develop the needed skills before they do their internship.” 

Itzel Torres, a first-year graduate student, said the clinic is advantageous for everyone. The students get experience with the support of familiar professors and clients receive the help they need at no cost, which she called “heartwarming.” 

Torres, one of 80 graduate students at the clinic, also sees the link between the campus and community as a team collaboration. Graduate students in the program must perform clinical hours for their license. Licensed speech therapists specialize in working with seniors and others who work with children in homes, schools or hospitals. 

“I think I see this program as a team because not only am I hopefully going to be helping them (clients), but they're also helping me learn and get that experience,” Torres said. 

The expanded hours give clients, such as Ed Dowd, have a place to help recover from a stroke he suffered in 2019. After two years of treatment at a local speech therapy office, a therapist at Long Beach Memorial referred Dowd and his wife to CSULB, only to find there were no available appointments. 

“Finally, we got an email saying they had an opening and we responded immediately,” said Dowd’s wife, Betty. “The students here do everything. They are so detailed and courteous. They care.” 

The extra hours also allow clients to return for additional needed treatment. Hung said that before the Scottish Rite gift, there was not time or space to see those who need that extra session or follow-up care. Now, afternoons at the clinic are buzzing with clients with various needs.