Family and friends of Leah Vandergriff establish scholarship for Speech-Language Pathology graduate students

By Aviva Yasgur | Nov 16, 2023

Vandergriff family and friends

From left to right: Alecia Kalaher, Megan Smetana, Mackenzie Vandergriff, Stephanie Schaaf, Madison Vandergriff, Dylan Vandergriff, Steve Vandergriff Sr., Steven Vandergriff Jr., Laura Notich, Nolan Vandergriff, Melissa Hacker, Beth Easterling, Brandon Anderson, Alison Brown and Jennifer Gaylord.

MURRAY, Ky. – Murray State University has announced the establishment of the Leah Vandergriff Memorial Scholarship, funded by gifts to the Murray State University Foundation by Leah’s family and friends in her memory. The scholarship will assist graduate students majoring in Speech-Language Pathology (SLP) at Murray State. 

Vandergriff was beloved in her Evansville, Indiana community for both the personal and professional facets of her life. She worked as a Speech-Language Pathologist for over 30 years, impacting the lives of her patients and her co-workers in countless ways. She was known both as a proficient clinician as well as an influential mentor. In her personal life, Leah was a loving wife, mother, grandmother, daughter and friend who generously gave her love to those around her. 

Early in her career, Leah met three coworkers who went on to become dear lifelong friends. These three friends – Beth Easterling, Laura Notich and Melissa Hacker – have joined with Leah’s husband of 36 years, Steve Vandergriff to establish this scholarship to memorialize Leah’s legacy. They chose Murray State because Leah’s daughter, Madison Vandergriff, is currently pursuing graduate study in Murray State’s Speech-Language Pathology program.

“This scholarship is particularly special because it truly encompasses the past, present and future,” said Dr. Stephanie Schaaf, academic and program director for Murray State University’s Center for Communication Disorders. “It honors Leah’s life and career as an exceptional speech-language pathologist, it recognizes Leah’s daughter, an undergraduate alumnae who continues her studies at Murray State in our graduate SLP program, and it will support future SLPs for years to come.” 

“The faculty in the Center for Communication Disorders see the financial burdens our students face and the challenges of working while completing a rigorous academic program,” continued Schaaf. “Financial support through this scholarship will allow students to focus on their work, worry a little less, and be more prepared to start their careers and serve others. We are honored and extremely grateful that Leah’s family and friends have chosen to establish this scholarship with our program. Rural, regional universities like Murray State educate many students who do not have financial support and who are first-generation undergraduate or graduate students. Scholarships are a rare and truly empowering gift that change our students’ lives for years to come. In addition to thankfully accepting the monetary gift, Murray State faculty and staff treasure this moment to support Maddie Vandergriff as we honor her mother’s legacy.”

Other friends and family of Leah Vandergriff who would like to join in memorializing her legacy are encouraged to contribute to the scholarship and help it assist even more students. 

Brandon Anderson, director of development for Murray State’s College of Education and Human Services, said, "Donations to this scholarship are not just donations, but rather investments in keeping Mrs. Vandergriff's legacy alive as a phenomenal wife, mother, clinician and friend. Through these donations, we ensure that Leah's influence continues to shape the future, providing opportunities and inspiring others to follow in her footsteps as a Speech-Language Pathologist.”

The scholarship is currently open for applications and will award its first funds in the fall semester of 2024. Interested applicants can apply through Murray State’s scholarship application portal through their myGate account and learn more about the scholarship opportunities for current students at

Contributions to the scholarship fund can be made by contacting the Murray State University Office of Development at 270-809-3001 or by making a secure gift online at

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