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Faculty Memorialize One of Their Own

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When Nick Fisher was growing into adulthood, it wasn’t certain if he would someday find a job. While being employed is a fact of life for most people, those on the autism spectrum recognize it as a rare opportunity. Fortunately for Fisher, he was given a chance at Nova Southeastern University’s Center for Autism & Related Disabilities (NSU CARD) housed within the Department of Speech-Language Pathology (SLP). Fisher now works three days a week, assisting with general office duties and always bringing his A-game to everything he does.

According to Wren Newman, Chair of the SLP Department, this would not have been possible without Dr. Robin Parker, who worked with Nick in the SLP clinic beginning when Nick was just two years old. Parker lost her life to pancreatic cancer in 2014.

“The thing I saw Robin do best was give families hope,” said Newman. “But it wasn’t just hope. It was also a lot of hard work, dedication, and confidence that change could be made. I truly believe that her manner of involvement with the children and their families helped the children move forward.”

To honor Parker’s memory and continue her work, former patients and their families along with students, colleagues, and friends came together to form the Robin Shari Parker HAPPI Foundation. The goal of the foundation is twofold: to support education and research for those affected by autism and to assist individuals and their families impacted by pancreatic cancer.

One of HAPPI’s top funding priorities is the Robin Shari Parker Endowed Speech-Language Pathology Fund, which awards scholarships to graduate students in the Speech-Language Pathology program at NSU. The first scholarship was awarded to Lauren Lagunovich, NSU SLP graduate student. Lauren will graduate in August and will continue her work in the area of autism.

“Robin just exemplified what all speech pathologists should [set] as a goal,” Newman said. “Within our faculty, we keep her memory close whenever we teach our students or counsel and treat families.”