Forging Connections An AuD student values her NSSLHA membership for the links it helps her create with students, professionals and her own future. Student's Say
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Student's Say  |   July 01, 2016
Forging Connections
Author Notes
  • Jennifer Doughan, BA, is a third-year student in the AuD program at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. jennifer.doughan@wustl.edu
    Jennifer Doughan, BA, is a third-year student in the AuD program at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. jennifer.doughan@wustl.edu×
Article Information
Professional Issues & Training / ASHA News & Member Stories / Student's Say
Student's Say   |   July 01, 2016
Forging Connections
The ASHA Leader, July 2016, Vol. 21, 42-43. doi:10.1044/leader.SSAY.21072016.42
The ASHA Leader, July 2016, Vol. 21, 42-43. doi:10.1044/leader.SSAY.21072016.42
Connections. It’s all about connections. Membership in the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association connects me with other students in communication sciences and disorders (CSD), with practicing professions and to my future.
That’s why, as an audiology graduate student, I am maintaining my NSSLHA membership. When I started grad school last year, I had to decide whether to renew. For speech-language pathology grad students, the choice is a little easier: Their program lasts two years, and grad students need two years of NSSLHA membership to qualify for the $225 NSSLHA-to-ASHA conversion discount on their first year of ASHA membership.
But audiology students have at least four years of graduate school, and dues are not always in our sometimes cash-strapped budgets. But along with some of my peers, I choose to remain a NSSLHA member. Why? It’s all about the connections.
Students
I have found that students pursuing CSD degrees tend to be passionate and caring. When starting up a conversation with a fellow student by asking, “Why CSD? Why speech-language pathology? Why audiology?” the result usually includes a glowing description of the profession, their personal interests in the field, and their aspirations to serve people in need of their services. As the emphasis on interprofessional understanding and collaboration increases in health care, I see a distinct need for CSD students to better understand the passion and the work that related professions do—beginning with our collaborators in ASHA and NSSLHA.
NSSLHA provides a forum for its members, including aspiring and current speech-language pathology students, PhD students and audiology students, to connect and foster that understanding. Whether through social media, the online ASHA Community, the NSSLHA Experience at the annual ASHA Convention or organically via membership in a local NSSLHA chapter, NSSLHA provides many opportunities to connect with other students and learn more about the work our peers will be doing.
I have taken advantage of opportunities to explain to future SLPs the more esoteric aspects of audiology and what makes my future profession so special—and I usually learn something in return about speech-language pathology. And meeting other audiology students has given me perspective into the different educational methods various programs use to prepare future audiologists. It is exciting to compare curricula, to learn more about the AuD on a national scale, and consider ways to improve the future of audiology. I hope that some of these connections will remain lifelong collaborators and long-distance colleagues when we enter the professional sector.

Making connections with practicing professionals teaches us more about the profession, but also can lead to mentorships that foster learning about our own ambitions and passions.

Professionals
Making connections with practicing professionals teaches us more about the profession, but also can lead to mentorships that foster learning about our own ambitions and passions. For students who participate in ASHA mentoring and professional development programs such as the Student to Empowered Professional (S.T.E.P.) mentoring program, Minority Student Leadership Program and Students Preparing for Academic-Research Careers, NSSLHA membership allows access to the programs’ discussion forums on the online ASHA Community.
As an alumna of S.T.E.P., I often tell friends and peers that my participation as an undergraduate was critical in my success as an audiology student. I applied to the program because I felt overwhelmed by the prospect of applying to graduate schools and unsure of where to start. In time, the weekly calls and emails with my S.T.E.P. mentor inspired me to dream bigger, to apply to more distant AuD programs, and to aspire to make a difference within the profession.
Access to the online ASHA Community also offers students connections with professionals. By subscribing to various communities, students can stay informed about the issues and concerns facing professionals and can also reach out directly to professionals. I used the community to ask for advice on how to begin a literature review and was grateful that professionals offered feedback that lent a unique perspective to the research.

The weekly calls and emails with my S.T.E.P. mentor inspired me to dream bigger, to apply to more distant AuD programs, and to aspire to make a difference within the profession.

The future
Although I did hesitate momentarily—as graduate students are apt to do!—at the cost of NSSLHA membership, I view it as an investment in my education and my future as a professional. NSSLHA membership is a stepping stone to future membership in our professional organizations. We experience the process of paying dues, receiving resources and, most important, belonging to a community of likeminded people.
As I prepare to enter my third year as an audiology grad student and begin my externship search, I know that the connections I have made and networking skills I have acquired will help me to better navigate that process.
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July 2016
Volume 21, Issue 7