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Austin Peay’s Shatto honored with Harold Love Community Service Award

By: Brian Dunn May 8, 2024

Austin Peay State University’s Dr. Erynne Shatto, assistant professor of counseling psychology, has been named a recipient of the 2024 Harold Love Outstanding Community Service Award. She is the University’s first winner since 2021.

Dr. Erynne Shatto headshot
Dr. Shatto

The Tennessee Higher Education Commission annually acknowledges 10 students and faculty/staff who demonstrate exceptional community service commitment. Shatto’s selection highlights her impact on academic circles and broader community initiatives.

In her response to receiving the Harold Love Outstanding Community Service Award, Shatto expressed surprise and gratitude.

“When I was notified about the award, I was very shocked, overwhelmed and humbled,” she said. “It was a lot to process. I know many educators and staff do amazing, community-driven activities every year.

“The work I do in the community is very special to me and focuses on problems that can be uncomfortable to think about, such as domestic violence, child abuse, suicide and the needs of autistic people, especially related to social misunderstandings and rejection. I appreciate that the people who are represented by my work were being ‘seen’ through this award.”

Enhancing lives after trauma, adversity

Shatto’s work has contributed significantly to mental health initiatives and community resilience programs. Her approach integrates research with direct interventions to enhance the lives of those impacted by trauma and adversity.

After joining Austin Peay in 2021, Shatto established a specialized learning team called STRETCh (Supervision and Training in Research, Evaluation, and Treatment for Children). The team is dedicated to serving the community and providing practical training to doctoral psychology students. They focus on critical issues such as infant and child development, suicide prevention, trauma recovery, neurodevelopmental assessments and training professionals to support disabled and neurodivergent individuals. They also offer interventions for those affected by domestic violence, working with families at Safe House and Fort Campbell’s Strong Beginnings.

“The appeal of being in academia, for me, has always been that it allows me to help others who would otherwise not be able to obtain the services of a psychologist and would go without needed services,” Shatto said. “By involving students in this work through my STRETCh lab, we are able to expand this work.”

This work has prevented an estimated 53 suicides or in-patient hospitalizations and impacted over 1,000 people.

“It gives me a lot of joy to know that families and people I will never meet will be better off because a student I trained and mentored through these community activities will go on to provide excellent care in their subsequent communities,” she said.

Making a lasting impact

Shatto’s win is her second major award in six months. In December 2023, she won the Bill Wyatt Distinguished Professorship for 2024 from the College of Behavioral and Health Sciences. She received $10,000 to fund a year-long research project on Teacher-Child Interaction Training (TCIT) to support military children with disabilities.

This project involves collaborating with Fort Campbell Child & Youth Services (CYS) and integrating TCIT into CYS’s Strong Beginnings Pre-K program. The focus is on vulnerable children because of their young age and developmental challenges.

The project aims for a sustained partnership with ongoing benefits for the children and participating students.

The Bill Wyatt Distinguished Professorship, established in 2022 through a donation from the Clarksville-Montgomery County Community Health Foundation, supports faculty in health-related departments and aims to enhance community health initiatives.

“The impact for students is huge,” Shatto said. “They enjoy doing work that has a real and positive impact on their local community.”

Engaging with the community

Shatto hopes the Harold Love Award will bring awareness to the needs of these special populations.

“It would be very exciting if others became more interested in how to support these groups,” she said. “If it opened more doors for me and my students to provide education, training, or services regarding the mental health needs of infants (children 0-5 years), youth and autistic people, it would be very exciting and meaningful to me and the STRETCh team. We are always looking for ways to engage in the community.”

In 2021, Austin Peay celebrated two Harold Love Outstanding Community Service Award winners. Nursing graduate student Deepesh Subedi won for his service to the Bhutanese refugee community in Nashville. Dr. Linda Darnell, an associate professor of nursing, was honored for her efforts to support the Academy of Health Science at Northwest High School.

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