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Donna M. Brelin Memorial SLP Scholarship

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We're not just leveling the playing field...we're leveling up. 

In 2010, I was 21 and living on my own in Los Angeles, CA. I had moved there from Flint, MI to pursue my dream of being a costume designer. If you’re reading this, you know that I ended up becoming a medical speech-language pathologist (SLP) instead. But that wasn’t an easy road. Because 2010 was also the year that my mom - Donna M. Brelin - passed away. She was my best friend. And although she tried as she might in her too-short life, I was raised in poverty (and wasn’t living a life of luxury in LA - that’s for sure!).

When I decided to become an SLP, that meant an uphill climb. You know why? Because becoming an SLP is expensive. Let alone being a “competitive” applicant or clinician. When considering living expenses and tuition across seven years (bachelor’s, master, CFY) how are students who can barely afford rent and food supposed to attend CEU courses or attend conventions so that they might network? Remember, “it’s who you know…” I had so many individuals and organizations stand up for me on my journey. I get it. I survived it. And I’m here to ask our community to give back.

How is the scholarship funded?
The scholarship is publicly funded by the SLP community. All donations are received through the GoFundMe campaign to increase transparency. The campaign will be open from January-August 2021. 100% of donations received - less crowdfunding processing fees - are given as scholarship(s) to aspiring SLP student(s). 

How many scholarships will awarded?
This will be determined based on the amount of donations received. The goal right now is to provide two recipients with a cash gift of at least $500.00 to be used towards anything they need to level the playing field - living expenses, tuition, professional development, etc. If the total donations received exceed $1000.00, the consideration for additional scholarships will be made.

Who is eligible to apply to be a recipient?
Any current undergraduate or graduate SLP student with a graduation date no earlier than Spring 2022 who self- identifies as having a financial need.

How does the application process work?
Applications will be open from July 1-August 30, 2021. Once the application period ends, a panel of at least three speech-language pathologists will be selected to review the applications and determine recipients. Interested in volunteering for this project? Contact me through my website or through the GoFundMe. Recipients will be announced September 15, 2021.

What will the application look like?
How can we impact the SLP community at-large - and not just the recipients - with this scholarship?

Applicants will be asked to identify a problem in Communication Sciences and Disorders and generate practical solutions that both the recipients and the community can implement. Issues and resolutions can be of any size or shape! And no essays with minimum word counts, here. Applicants are welcome to share their content in any way that suits them best - a YouTube video, song, dance, painting (or, yes, even an essay). Stay tuned for more information on the application when it opens on July 1, 2021!

2021 Project Timeline
January 31-August 31: GoFundMe Open for Donations
July 1-August 15: Scholarship Application Opens 
September 15: Scholarship Recipients Announced

Thank you for being a part of this movement. Visit to learn more! 




Sara Newman
Dallas, TX

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