Club prepares students to help teach speech, language

Members of the ASU chapter of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association work hard inside and outside of class, but a changed job field may loom in their future.

Communication disorders graduate student Megan Peterson, the club’s involvement ambassador, said the club’s goal is to get students more involved with the Department of Speech and Hearing Science.

To accomplish this, she said the club tries to hold monthly meetings to educate undergraduates about applying to graduate school, introduce upcoming events in the department, discuss volunteer opportunities and listen to guest speakers.

The club has provided a network for students and an aid for getting into graduate school, Peterson said.

“I personally hope that I will be able to work with adults and help them communicate their wants and needs effectively,” she said.

Peterson said sequester-related budget cuts will affect adults and children who receive services.

A statement by the National Education Association suggested that sequestration could lead to special education funding cuts to states with a projected 12,355 job loss, including speech-language pathologists.

She said she does not believe the sequester will reduce the number of jobs available in the field, but it will affect how speech-language pathologists receive their funding.

“Communication is really important to quality of life, so when these cuts happen, it’s affecting people’s quality of life,” Peterson said.

She said the club participates in virtual advocacy days, where members send emails to congressmen about field-related concerns.

Speech and hearing science senior Connie Tsang is secretary of the ASU branch of NSSLHA. Tsang volunteers at all the club’s events and said she particularly likes working with children.

She said there are so many other programs that could be cut instead of educational programs.

Tsang said some speech-language pathologists work through the government, and with programs being cut, there will be fewer job opportunities.

“And we’re not going to be paid as much,” she said.

Tsang said she plans to receive certification to work as a speech-language pathologist’s assistant while she works toward her master’s degree, which she needs to become a speech-language pathologist in Arizona.

Tsang said the hospitals she wants to work with after graduation are privately owned, so she doubts the sequester cuts are going to affect her personally.

“I’m not worried about it, because speech-language pathologists are in such high demand,” she said.

Speech and hearing science junior Cristina Ibarra is the club’s event coordinator and has been a member for two years.

Ibarra said in an email that she joined NSSLHA to be more involved in her field, to meet other people in the department and to help people in need.

“Not only do we interact with other students who share our own career goals, but also professors who are more than willing to guide and help you as much as they can,” she said.

Ibarra said the sequester is unfortunate not only for those whose jobs will be affected, but also for the patients who will lose coverage from federally funded programs.

I think that the need for therapy is far greater than the menace of the sequester, so hopefully patients will continue to get proper help and professionals will continue to serve those in need,” she said.

Ibarra said the best thing members of the speech-language pathology field can do is remain informed and vote for change.

Fortunately I still have a few years to go before I hit the job market. One can only hope that our economy as a whole improves by then,” she said.


Reach the reporter at smande17@asu.edu or follow her on Twitter @SarahDeAnderson