Through Service and Research, Class of 2020’s Ozanam Scholars Explore Issues of Social Justice - Part V

Gwyneth Swinburne
December 2, 2020

St. John’s Ozanam Scholars Program is a highly selective, academic initiative that combines service, research, and global learning. Through the program, scholars examine and seek solutions to real-world social justice issues, travel around the world to serve those in need, and complete a capstone project during their senior year. In this series, we look at recent Ozanam Scholar graduates and the impact each has made on society. 

Gwyneth Swinburne

Like many Ozanam Scholars, service has always been an important part of Gwyneth Swinburne’s life. In fact, when it came time to choose a college, St. John’s University’s focus on academic service-learning played an important role in her decision.

“I volunteered frequently in high school, and I wanted to make sure I had similar experiences in college,” said the Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology major.

“I liked having the opportunity at St. John’s to be involved in the community. When I first visited the Queens, NY, campus, I felt a connection to the University and the professors whom I met.”

A native of Baltimore, MD, Gwyneth’s Ozanam capstone project, “Equal Access to Speech-Language Pathologists in New York City: A Survey of Two Daycares,” compares the approaches that daycare teachers take in addressing Early Intervention Service (EIS) referrals in two New York City neighborhoods: the Financial District and Bedford-Stuyvesant.

“As a future speech-language pathologist, I am particularly interested in EIS and how it works in a setting that is not specifically tied to a public school,” she explained. “EIS is often overlooked within these daycare centers.”

Gwyneth worked closely with daycare directors and teachers in the two neighborhoods to determine how best to approach EIS strategies and how to conduct often difficult conversations with parents about their children.

“Often, teachers fear that parents will not be accepting of news of potential developmental delay in their child,” she explained. “As a result, parents may be less likely to pursue speech, physical, or occupational therapy if they fear shame associated with any sort of assessment.”

To help teachers walk parents through the different milestones that children typically reach throughout their earliest years, Gwyneth created a series of posters based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Developmental Milestones checklist.

“After viewing the posters, nine of the 10 teachers responded that the posters would be a beneficial resource for their classroom,” Gwyneth noted in the Journal of Vincentian Social Action. “Daycare directors stated that a resource including information on developmental milestones and how to access NYC-funded services would be useful for their center.”

In addition to her work with local daycare centers, Gwyneth’s commitment to helping others has been evident throughout her years at St. John’s. “I served at Our Lady of Mount Carmel St. Benedicta School on Staten Island, and I volunteered in Florida at Give Kids the World Village,” she explained. “I also served at an elementary school and at a refugee home while studying at the Rome, Italy, campus.”

Next fall, Gwyneth will continue her journey toward becoming a speech-language pathologist by enrolling in graduate studies at the University of Maryland, College Park.