The National Student Speech-Language-Hearing Association Provides Many Opportunities For Its Members

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

NSSLHALorraine Adcox, an instructor and clinical supervisor for the Speech Pathology and Audiology Program at SC State University, beams when she speaks of her students. As faculty advisor for the National Student Speech-Language-Hearing Association (NSSLHA), Adcox admires the commitment and charismatic personalities of all NSSLHA members. “These students are so eager and willing to help,” says Adcox. “I’ll send an e-mail and get 10 responses right away when we need volunteers,” she continues.

Adcox proudly points out the pictures of NSSLHA members that adorn her office walls, the t-shirts that were designed by students with the saying, “just speechie,” and she proudly recalls the first NSSLHA meeting. The organization gained a student membership larger than in the past, more than the normal 20 or 30 members. “We have 60 student members now. This is just wonderful,” says Adcox.

NSSLHA, an affiliate of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), is solely for students. The organization allows members to engage in community service and outreach activities, as well as fund-raisers and educational activities.

Adcox happily points to the pictures that she’s taken thus far, during her two years as advisor for NSSLHA. Some pictures are from member visits to nursing homes during the Christmas holidays, while others were taken during the “Stuff A Bus” Campaign. Students collect donations from administrators and classmates to spread the Christmas cheer.

NSSLHA also encourages students to attend various conventions for professional development. Graduate student Eddrina Frasier will not forget her experiences as a member of NSSLHA. Joining in 2007, Frasier says that NSSLHA provides a wonderful means for those who wish to enter the profession of speech-language pathology. “NSSLHA is the avenue that prepares you for the profession as you go off into your career. It’s a way for students to become involved,” states Frasier.

In 2008, this involvement led NSSLHA members to the ASHA Annual Convention in Chicago where they won 3rd place in the National College Knowledge Bowl. With more than 13,000 attendees at the Chicago convention, the SC State NSSLHA Chapter members competed against 109 other national regions and claimed the victory. Surprisingly, the students had no idea they were going to participate. “When the person at the podium asked who was representing region 5, nobody stood up,” says Dr. Gwendolyn Wilson, chair of the Department of Health Sciences and coordinator of the Speech Pathology and Audiology Program at SC State. “Our students said that they would try,” says Dr. Wilson.

The students’ efforts garnered them a $500 prize, and according to Frasier, that demonstrates the quality of the Speech Pathology and Audiology Program at SC State. “We had the knowledge base provided here at SC State,” says Frasier. “We showed that we could provide the answers, comparable to anyone that you would see in the country in this profession.”
Participation in NSSLHA has also created an incentive for members and for the department. Under Adcox’s leadership, NSSLHA has awarded the SC State NSSLHA Chapter with two grants, including the McKinley Regional Project Grant and the Community Service Grant Award.

The McKinley Regional Project Grant will fund an educational conference for students in the region. “We thought a good idea would be to put on a student conference, presented by students and for students,” says Adcox. Students will invite speakers currently working in the field to speak on topics of particular interest to them, and to provide information about certification and the types of employment settings that members may want to consider. The first student conference is tentatively scheduled to be held in April.

The Community Service Award Grant is a matching grant that will be carried out in conjunction with the Sertoma Club of Orangeburg. NSSLHA members will identify an individual or an educational entity in need of an augmentative communication device, providing a means for people with severe communication disabilities to interact with others.

With the acquisition of these two significant grants, the SC State NSSLHA Chapter will continue to provide educational opportunities for student members, and will likely continue to increase its membership. “Additional members speak volumes about the leadership in terms of the faculty advisor and the interest of our students in the profession,” says Wilson.