Volunteer Spotlight – April 2016

Apr 1, 2016

ReynoldsDr. Mary Beth Reynolds
Marshall University

Name: Dr. Mary Beth Reynolds

Chapter Position: President

University Position: Associate Vice President for Assessment and Quality Initiatives and Professor of Communication Disorders

Years of Service to the Chapter: 5 years

Degree(s)/Discipline: Ph.D., Speech-Language Pathology

How did you become involved as a chapter officer? I was one of the charter members of Marshall’s chapter of Phi Kappa Phi, which was chartered in November of 2010. In the spring of 2012, I was elected President-elect for a two-year term. In July 2014, I assumed the office of chapter president.

What has your chapter done that has made you proud? Our chapter has been active since its inception, but I would like to speak directly to this past year.  In the spring of 2015, we partnered with two other student organizations on Marshall’s campus, the National Student Speech-Language-Hearing Association and the Honors College Student Association, to sponsor a Book Drive. The purpose of the Book Drive was to collect children’s books to be used by children in a low-income housing community in Huntington. The unique feature of this housing community is that one of Huntington’s churches, St. John’s Episcopal Church, has conducted an outreach program there (St. John’s House) for more than fifteen years. Within the past several years, the outreach has expanded through a partnership between St. John’s and Marshall University. Currently, graduate students majoring in speech-language pathology serve as co-directors of its after school program, which provides tutoring, help with homework, hot meals, and other types of enrichment activities, including a literacy program. We collected more than 300 books, the majority of which were children’s books now being used by the children. Additionally, we applied for a Phi Kappa Phi Literacy grant which, in addition to supporting the St. John’s House after school program, will be used to begin structured literacy instruction to a group of preschool aged children. Graduate student speech-language pathology clinicians from Marshall University, under the supervision of Marshall’s licensed speech-language pathologists, will provide instruction. Such a literacy group already operates within the Marshall University Speech and Hearing Center and we see this as an excellent opportunity to bring this program to St. John’s House. These children may be at risk for reading and other academic difficulties and do not have the resources to attend a program (such as the one at Marshall University) distant from their homes. Parental education and involvement will be integrated into the program as a necessary component for generalization into the home environment.  

During academic year 2014-2015, we also launched our first chapter awards to graduating seniors in an effort to increase the number of applications we received for the Phi Kappa Phi Fellowship and to be more student-centered. We chose two applicants, each of whom received a check from our local chapter in the amount of $500 to be used toward the cost of their graduate education. We hope to continue, and perhaps expand, these awards in the future.

What does Phi Kappa Phi mean to you? To me, Phi Kappa Phi means trying to live its mission statement, “To recognize and promote academic excellence in all fields of higher education and to engage the community of scholars in service to others.” I also feel strongly that each chapter of Phi Kappa Phi must keep students at its center.  With this in mind, our chapter invited a cadre of four students to serve as vice presidents during academic year 2014-2015 and initiated chapter awards for students.  We lived the first part of the Phi Kappa Phi mission by inviting into membership excellent students, faculty, and staff from all disciplines within the university and by co-sponsoring a visiting scholar, Dr. Ahmed Ragab, the Richard T. Watson Assistant Professor of Science and Religion at Harvard Divinity School, who presented two lectures on the intersection between science and religion to members of the Marshall and Huntington communities. We lived the second part of the Phi Kappa Phi mission by conducting a book drive and applying for a Literacy Grant to serve low-income children within the Huntington community.

What do you enjoy most about being a chapter officer? I enjoy working with outstanding students, faculty and staff. When we all work together and share ideas, so much can be accomplished!

What advice would you give to a new chapter officer?
 I would advise a new chapter officer to take advantage of the many leadership opportunities that Phi Kappa Phi provides. I learned a lot by attending Phi Kappa Phi’s Biennial Convention and by attending a cluster meeting. Phi Kappa Phi staff members also are responsive to all questions, so I recommend that, if a new officer has a question, be sure to contact the appropriate Phi Kappa Phi staff member. At the local level, make sure to work with other officers and include student vice presidents.

What are your hobbies? I like to read (especially history), travel, and spend time with family and friends. When traveling, I enjoy trying new foods, visiting places of historical interest, and going to the theatre and to musical events. I especially enjoy theatre and reading that challenges me to consider issues and events in new ways, i.e. that challenge any preconceived notions I might have.

Where are you from?
 I’m originally from Kentucky (born in Covington, but grew up in Ashland from the age of ten). I currently live with my husband, Nick, in Huntington, W.V. and have two grown sons, Colin and Owen.