University of Nebraska: Students Promote Professions For the past several semesters, communications sciences and disorders students (CSD) at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) have worked on two projects to promote the professions to young people on their way to choosing career paths. The efforts include an outreach project by members of the UNO chapter ... Academic Edge
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Academic Edge  |   February 01, 2010
University of Nebraska: Students Promote Professions
Author Notes
  • Mitzi Ritzman, PhD, CCC-SLP, is an assistant professor in the Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) and sponsor of the UNO chapter of NSSLHA. Contact her at mritzman@unomaha.edu.
    Mitzi Ritzman, PhD, CCC-SLP, is an assistant professor in the Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) and sponsor of the UNO chapter of NSSLHA. Contact her at mritzman@unomaha.edu.×
Article Information
Professional Issues & Training / Academic Edge
Academic Edge   |   February 01, 2010
University of Nebraska: Students Promote Professions
The ASHA Leader, February 2010, Vol. 15, 24-25. doi:10.1044/leader.AE.15022010.24
The ASHA Leader, February 2010, Vol. 15, 24-25. doi:10.1044/leader.AE.15022010.24
For the past several semesters, communications sciences and disorders students (CSD) at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) have worked on two projects to promote the professions to young people on their way to choosing career paths.
The efforts include an outreach project by members of the UNO chapter of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association (NSSLHA) and a service-learning project by members of an undergraduate class. In both projects, university students talk with students from local middle and high schools to share their career passion.
Mitzi Ritzman (second from left), chapter advisor, prepares for a middle school career awareness event with members of the University of Nebraska at Omaha NSSHLA chapter (from left) Danielle Whisler, Jana Loyet, Jessica Hargis, Jami Scott, Mike Burns, and Heather Scott.
NSSLHA Outreach
As future practitioners, UNO students recognize the importance of career awareness, and designed an outreach effort to increase awareness in younger students. NSSLHA members volunteered their time to speak with middle school students in a summer program and also worked in collaboration with Future Educators of America to introduce 250 high school students to the field.
In planning for these events, the NSSLHA members worked diligently to address the wide range of career opportunities to ensure students were well-informed about the variety of choices available in the fields of speech-language pathology and audiology.
Sessions began with a short DVD, “Success Stories: Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists Making a Difference” (a free resource provided by NSSLHA), which highlights CSD professionals working in a variety of settings. Students then rotated among “stations” that included a variety of activities.
At one station, students were given a brief introduction to the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). By using the IPA chart and a description of the target consonant (e.g., voiced bilabial stop), each student decoded a message that read “I can’t wait to become a speech-language pathologist.” In another activity, graduate students worked with the middle and high school students as they explored several augmentative and alternative communication systems, helping them understand the important function they serve for individuals with communication challenges.
Graduate student Jessica Thomas found the experience valuable. “When I was in high school, I had very little exposure to our career,” she said. “Many of the students we spoke with were already considering possible careers. Having a chance to inform the students about speech-language pathology as a possible choice left me with a sense of hope. I felt like I had taken a first step in spreading awareness and advocating for my field in a big way.”
Many of the middle and high school students had never heard of an SLP or audiologist; by the time they left, the university students were able to share their passion and perhaps introduce a new career choice. At the end of the events, students were given pamphlets on different CSD career choices. NSSLHA plans to include additional information—about UNO’s programs, UNO admission criteria, and the need for SLPs—at future events.
Service Learning
“The Next Generation” is a service-learning project designed for students in the undergraduate Professional Issues class. Each CSD student visits a local high school and presents information about speech-language pathology. Dana Schoenfeld, a senior speech-language pathology major, explained the value of the project. “I learned that I’m responsible for educating the community about SLPs and what we do. Unfortunately, most people don’t know what SLPs do unless they have been personally affected in some way.”
The presentations begin with the “Success Stories” DVD, followed by activities designed by the CSD students to engage the high school students. Some of the activities included a dysphagia simulation (have students take a small sip of water, tilt their heads back, and try to swallow, then have students take another sip of water, tuck their chins in, then try to swallow); an interactive discussion about the phonatory system with a hands-on display to manipulate; and a discussion about travel and international travel opportunities available.
UNO students now understand the importance of career awareness and look forward to more events. “I think other students in speech-language pathology programs should be required to promote and advocate at least once a semester,” UNO student Amber Johnson said, “not only to heighten awareness but also to keep the passion alive.”
New Resource for Students

The second edition of the Communication Sciences Student Survival Guide is now available. Written by members of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association with contributions from clinical and academic professionals, the guide is appropriate for students at any point along the path to a career in audiology, speech-language pathology, or speech, language and hearing sciences. It provides background information, practical advice, and helpful checklists as well as information on professional specialty areas, settings, and career options. This edition includes chapters for study-abroad and international students, personal accounts from a member of each of ASHA’s 16 special interest divisions, and a chapter on preparing for the clinical practicum. To order the guide, visit ASHA’s online store or call 888-498-6699.

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February 2010
Volume 15, Issue 2