LU News Archive

Harn honored with Rogers Community Service Award

MonicaMonica Harn, associate professor and department chair of the speech and hearing sciences department, will be honored with Lamar University’s 2014 Julie & Ben Rogers Community Service Award at 3 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 3, in the University Reception Center of the Mary and John Gray Library.

Harn said it was a great honor to discover she had been selected for the award.

“I was so pleased to be recognized by the Rogers family,” she said. “People like the Rogers instill a value of service in the community and act as excellent role models. This award is a nice example of the emphasis that this university as well as the community places on service. It proves that not only are we as university employees expected to outreach here, but that we can have a broader impact in the community also.”

Harn said she feels as if the award validates her work of being a speech pathologist.

“Speech pathologists and audiologists are about making the world a better place for their clients,” she said. “Due to the nature of my profession, we are bound by service. With this job, you have the opportunity to give back in a big way. I think this award is an outgrowth of thinking you’re going to do great things in the world. This award demonstrates the passion I have for my job and the passion I have for service.”

Harn credits college for exposing her to a world of service.

“I wish I could say that I’ve always seen the world through the lens of service, but I really discovered the importance of service in college,” she said. “As I was finishing my undergraduate degree in mass communications, I thought about what I was doing and what I wanted to do with my life. After enrolling in college, I started to take courses in the humanities, and my eyes were opened.”

After graduating with her undergraduate degree, Harn began working at a public relations firm until she realized she wanted to pursue a career that was more service-oriented.

“In the 1990s before the Internet, I checked out a book on communication disorders, read it, and thought I’m jumping in,” she said. “I had never heard of the field of speech pathology, but when I met with the people in education and talked about the things that interested me, they suggested that I speak to the chair of speech pathology at LSU. After my first semester of graduate work, I fell in love with it. I haven’t looked back. I’ve loved every moment since then.”

Harn instantly knew she was in the right profession the moment she started working with children.

“At my first clinical rotation I had a group of five children, each who had a disabling condition, that I was responsible for,” she said. “I just sat down in the middle of them and knew I had to do something. From that day on, I was absolutely steadfast.”

A faculty member of Lamar since 2001, Harn said her position meshes three of her passions: teaching, serving and researching.

“By being human we are driven by the desire to participate in a social cultural context and anything that interferes with a person’s ability to be involved in their community interferes with their quality of life,” she said. “Part of our job in this department is to provide people a means to communicate or ways to compensate for disabilities so they can become active contributors in a social cultural context. Overall our goal is to improve quality of life and inherently that means serving both the client and community at large. In this profession, you can make a profound difference where you can really change lives.”

According to Harn, service isn’t something she thinks about but rather something she does.

“For me that’s the point of why you would wake up - to contribute,” she said. “Your life is about doing something, and so if you’re not doing something that enhances the world around you then what is the point of what you’re doing? Personally, I think no matter what you choose to do with your life, you’re going to be giving service. Anything you do benefits others if it is to make a positive change.”

Harn said she believes service is a self-fulfilling activity.

“When you go do something for someone else, then your life becomes what it is meant to be,” she said. “I’ve always found myself in situations where I see a need and think, ‘If I don’t do it, who is going to do it? If not you then who, so why not you?’ I might not be the smartest or the best, but if I don’t get out there and do something then who else do I expect to do it. Maybe you don’t even hear about the impact of your service now, but you know that you put something out there that might have an effect 20 years from now.”

Harn said she comes from a long line of service.

“My grandmother was a public health nurse, and she would drive into the fields and serve people,” she said. “Service was what she did for her life’s work. My mother is a teacher whose profession revolves around service. With such examples, I can’t help but see service everywhere.”

Harn received her bachelor’s degree in mass communication from McNeese State University. She obtained her doctorate in communication sciences and disorders from Louisiana State University.

The Rogers family established the award in 1979 to encourage Lamar University faculty and staff to volunteer their service and talents to the community. The Lamar University Foundation maintains an endowment that provides for the award.

Other 2014 recipients are Melanie Lanuza of Lamar Institute of Technology, Tara Lanphar of Lamar State College-Orange and Cynthia Guidry of Lamar State College-Port Arthur.