By the time Ellen Schwartz watched The Miracle Worker, she knew where her career would take her.
She had always been interested in working with people with special needs, and seeing the 1962 depiction of Anne Sullivan’s efforts to tutor the deaf and blind Helen Keller sealed her decision.
Schwartz received her Temple master’s degree in speech-language pathology (SLP) in 1969 and worked her way up to director of SLP at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. There, she worked largely with children with medical issues, such as hearing impairment, cleft palate or cerebral palsy, that impacted their speech abilities. She later started her own private practice in Philadelphia, where for more than 30 years she has focused on treating preschool- and early elementary-aged children with communication disorders as well as counseling their families on management and intervention strategies used.
Schwartz’s generosity runs deep: At Temple, she and her husband, Jeremy Siegel, have endowed a $250,000 graduate scholarship for the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, and Schwartz is committed to offering career guidance and mentorship to scholarship recipients as they enter the field of SLP. She invites them to meet with her or visit her at her practice in order to see the field firsthand—or simply to chat.
Schwartz said that she wanted to help offset the costs of graduate school, which have changed since she received her master’s: “When I was in graduate school, the world was very different, and there was a lot of funding available for students,” she said. “That isn’t true anymore, and I understand how expensive college is and that many are unable to afford it. I thought it would be great to help someone who doesn’t have those resources to offset the costs of graduate school.”