For Suzanne Vanston Speicher, the old adage that “third time’s the charm” has a special significance. At Marywood, she changed her major twice before reaching a third one that ultimately
opened the door to a life’s work she loves. Marywood helped her to do this she says, first by giving her the space to explore; then by offering—at just the right time—a brand new major in speech therapy. Suzanne was a member of the initial class in a field just coming into its own.
“Marywood has always done this,” Suzanne says. “Marywood has a long history of taking on
new programs...expanding into new fields to meet developing needs.”
Actually, Suzanne herself has a history of expanding her own horizons and undertaking new
challenges. After receiving her B.A. in Communication Disorders from Marywood, she went on to earn
her M.Ed. in Special Education and her Ph.D. in Human Development from the University of Maryland.
Her broad background has given her a depth of understanding and expertise that continues to
characterize her distinguished professional career as an educator. She has taught at all levels—
elementary...through high school...to college/university—and has worked in the student services milieu. She has been a diagnostic/prescriptive teacher in Montgomery County, Maryland, schools, and a professor at Hood College. At one point, “on loan” from the Montgomery County system, she worked in the Maryland State Department of Education (under jurisdiction of the Department of Homeland Security), where she was part of a team concerned with a federal case citing Baltimore schools for failure to provide services. Working within the Baltimore system, she was tasked with training teachers to be more successful, so that they could bring scores up to grade. Moving onward as usual, she will soon take her role as an educator of educators to a new level as coordinator of graduate programs at Towson University.
Sue and her husband, Joseph, a Navy vet and CPA, are parents of three children—Joe, Jr.,
Matthew, and Christine—and proud grandparents of one new granddaughter. Although their home is
in Maryland, their roots run deep in Pennsylvania. To help stay connected to friends and family, they
bought a “get-away” house in Lake Ariel—“so we can come back more often,” Sue says.
When it comes to representing popular adages, another apt one is the observation that “it’s a
small world after all.” Among Suzanne’s friends is Dr. Anthony Russo, retired Marywood professor, who was her classmate at the University of Maryland...and Kathryn Lynott Oursler ’72, her cousin, who is also a 2012 alumni Award winner. Sue had grown up practically across the street from the building that is now Marywood’s McGowan Center. Her father had delighted in taking organ lessons at Marywood—a passion he enjoyed throughout his life. “We even had dorm students living at our house,” she says, “because dorm space was limited at the time.”
Suzanne has remained committed to her alma mater, serving on the inaugural Dean’s Council in
the Reap College of Education and Human Development; consistently and generously supporting major capital projects at the University. “Marywood got me started on a wonderful career,” she says simply. “I am grateful. I am honored and thrilled to receive this award.”
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