The National Student Speech Language Hearing Association (NSSLHA) chapter at Seton Hall University has been awarded with 2019 Gold Chapter Honors, and they could not be more excited about it. National NSSLHA Chapter Honors are awarded to affiliated NSSLHA chapters that demonstrate an outstanding effort to support National NSSLHA's mission to inspire, empower, and support students in communication sciences and disorders programs. This award comes as the outgoing executive board who earned these honors prepares to graduate and enter the workforce after two years and five semesters of intensive coursework, clinical internships, and service to the profession and community. The NSSLHA chapter at SHU had a busy two years of service including community outreach activities, legislative advocacy, and fundraising all of which contributed to their Gold status.
Community outreach activities included university and community based activities. At the university, the NSSLHA chapter raised awareness on hearing health by distributing earplugs on campus with information about how to protect yourself from noise related hearing loss, and offered free hearing screenings to individuals upon request. This is especially important given the increased use of headphones by students and faculty on campus. Another campus related activity was to provide an information session to undergraduate students who were interested in pursuing a graduate degree in speech language pathology. Outside of the university community, the NSSLHA group increased awareness of vocal hygiene for teachers in schools where they were placed during their first year of graduate school. This was an important initiative given that teachers are at a high risk for voice problems including vocal nodules and so they provided teachers with a vocal care kit that included a bottle of water, a throat lozenge, and a list of tips for maintaining a healthy voice during the school day. Members of the SHU NSSLHA chapter also volunteered in June of 2018 at the New Jersey Special Olympics where they assisted with providing hearing screenings to the athletes and families participating in the event. Legislative outreach included having a representative from the group, Anne Bucca, attend a daylong event at the Governmental Affairs Building and Trenton Congress Hall where students from around the state had a chance to meet with congress representatives and observe legislative hearings. Upon her return, Anne took the time to discuss her experience with her classmates and highlighting the importance of being involved with governmental affairs related to the profession. Fundraising activities including raising money and donating to the American Speech Language Hearing Foundation NSSLHA scholarship fund from which scholarships are provided to students at the undergraduate, masters and Ph.D. levels for meritorious contributions to the field.
Lizzy Kling, one of the co-presidents of the group shared a quote from the group on why it was important for the board to achieve 2019 Gold Chapter Honors, "Being a member of a female dominated profession is very empowering. We're all very driven individuals and decided on the common goal of achieving gold status for our chapter for the first time ever. We wanted to represent Seton Hall University as a class who understands and values the importance of advocacy for our profession, teamwork in the field, and a strong work ethic."
NSSLHA is the only national student organization for pre-professionals studying communication sciences and disorders recognized by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). Established in 1972, National NSSLHA is headquartered in Rockville, Maryland, and supports 13,400+ members and 300+ chapters at colleges and universities nationwide. At Seton Hall University, NSSHLA is a graduate student organization for those enrolled in the Master of Science in Speech Language Pathology program in the School of Health and Medical Sciences. Dr. Koutsoftas has been the academic advisor for the student group since 2012 and the group has earned Bronze and Silver honors in the past; however, this is the first year that the group has earned Gold Chapter Honors.