The University of Virginia Chapter of the National Student Speech-Language Hearing Association, or NSSLHA was awarded NSSLHA Gold Chapter Honors for the second time in three years.
NSSLHA is a student-run, pre-professional organization for graduate and undergraduate students in Speech Pathology and Audiology, a program of study at U.Va.’s Curry School of Education. The chapter, which is made up of about 50 members, aims to educate students about the study of communication sciences and disorders.
The American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) is the governing body that awards the Gold level status to the NSSLHA chapters.
The Executive Council of the NSSLHA recognizes students, faculty, chapters, and individuals who have made significant contributions to both the association and to the discipline of human communication sciences disorders.
Chapters receiving Gold level recognition must be in good standing with the national association, donate a minimum of $500 to “NSSLHA Loves”, contribute to the regional newsletter, submit a grant application, participate in a CSD Career Awareness activity, participate in two or more advocacy activities, and engage in social media/promotion of the NSSLHA chapter.
“Winning Gold Level Honors is huge. It means that our NSSLHA chapter is among the very best chapters in the nation. Among 319 chapters nationwide, only 4% achieved Gold Status in 2013,” Randall Robey, professor and director of the Speech Pathology and Audiology program at the Curry School of Education said.
“It means U.Va. students excel and lead on the national stage,” added Robey, “It means that students in the Speech Pathology and Audiology program live and personify the ideals of the University of Virginia.”
When asked about the significance of being awarded Gold Level Honors, Jeniffer Corena, President of the NSSLHA Chapter at U.Va was thrilled.
“It’s amazing to be recognized! It took a lot of coordination and effort from all of the officers to complete every requirement. To me, this just shows how devoted our members are because we truly could not have achieved this without them,” said Corena.
Students in the Speech Pathology and Audiology program are studying to work in either a research or clinical setting. Each year these students are given the opportunity to learn outside the classroom and conduct clinical appointments with children presenting a diverse range of language disorders.
One of the NSSLHA’s chapter initiatives is professional development in clinical services, which includes activities such as inviting guest speakers to address aspects of patient care. However, NSSLHA primarily functions as a service and advocacy orientated organization whose core values include philanthropy, community service, career awareness, advocacy, and networking.
“Every one of those dimensions of service are squarely centered in advancing the interests and wellbeing of individuals with a communication disorder, such as stuttering, head injury, language delay, deafness, or autism,” explained Robey.
“In previous years, the NSSLHA chapter has participated in events such as: Habitat for Humanity, Wounded Warriors Weekend, Toys for Tots, the Virginia Institute for Autism annual 5k, and many other events. For the past couple of years NSSLHA has also fundraised money to help fund scholarships for children with Autism and language disorders to attend summer camps held in the Sheila C. Johnson Center clinic,” said Corena.
As president, Corena oversees these service events, holds meetings, handles paperwork, and tries to stay on top deadlines. She works closely with officers and members to keep the organization running and to make sure the chapter meets the requirements set out by the ASHA to be considered for NSSLHA Gold Chapter Honors.
According to Corena, NSSLHA is more than just an organization here on grounds; it’s a mini community of students and faculty. Members take classes together, while also participating in fun social and community service activities outside of class with one another.
NSSLHA members receive support for their events from faculty members at the University. In turn, these faculty members often ask NSSLHA members for help in achieving their Program Goals.
“We faculty members are there not-so secret admirers. We are proud to stand with them. It is a delight and privilege to work with our nation’s best, brightest, and highly motivated go-getters who commit themselves to serving the interest of strangers carrying a heavy burden,” said Robey.
In 2007, the University of Virginia’s NSSLHA Chapter won the Communication Sciences and Disorders Convention Scholarship Sponsored by Delmar Learning. U.Va.’s NSSLHA chapter was awarded Gold Chapter Honors for 2009, 2010, and 2011. In 2010, they were also named the NSSLHA Chapter of the Year.
—By Ashley Dembeck