I’m sitting in one of my first college classes last Fall, LCD 100. After going through the syllabus for the semester, my professor draws our attention to the announcement on the chalkboard…NSSLHA Meeting, New Members Welcome, Free Pizza. Free pizza is always good, right? I knew going into college that I wanted to get involved in things on campus, not just run home all the time when classes were done for the day. I also knew I wanted to major in Communication Sciences and Disorders. I’m so glad I took that first step and went to the meeting!
NSSLHA stands for the National Student Speech-Language-Hearing Association. It is much more than just another club on campus, it is an association, a family of students most of whom are interested in becoming Speech-Language Pathologists or Audiologists. The meetings give members a great insight to the world of applying to graduate school including writing your personal statement, preparing for the daunting GREs, and even hearing from former NSSLHA members about their graduate school experiences. Members also participate in various walks in our area such as the Autism Speaks Walk and the Walk for Hearing. We hold multiple themed bake sales throughout the year in the Dining Hall (and everything is really delicious, I’m not just saying that). The proceeds from the last bake sale were donated to an organization called ARTZ, an art therapy program for people with dementia.
Over the past week, this year’s President of the Queens College Chapter of NSSLHA, Marina Vazura and Vice President, Stephanie Bonowicz were kind enough to answer a few questions I had:
Why did you make the decision to join NSSLHA as members and then to run for your respective positions on the board?
Marina: I was always involved in extracurricular activities and when I heard that a club for my major existed, I was eager to join. I had so many questions pertaining to graduate school and NSSLHA happened to have all the answers. Through my involvement, I began to have ideas that I wanted to implement in the club and that is when I ultimately decided to run for the President position. Although it was intimidating at first, I now think it is the best decision I have ever made. Every day comes with a new learning experience and I am so thankful to have such an incredible board, with individuals who bring unique skills to the team, to share these experiences with. This is why I encourage every member to stay involved with NSSLHA because the involvement will lead to the fruition of new ideas, and furthermore the progression of individual growth like it did for me!
Stephanie: Unlike Marina, I was never involved with anything on campus. I simply went to classes and then went home. The reason I joined NSSLHA as a member was to try to gain friends in my major and to get as much information about it as possible. The experience turned out to be much more valuable than I had ever hoped. The reason I ran for Vice President was because I wanted to help all of our members gain knowledge and feel less stressed about our demanding major. I wanted to make NSSLHA seem like a family rather than a bunch of students competing against one another.
What do you believe is the importance of having this chapter at QC?
Stephanie: Queens College has a very prestigious program for Communication Sciences Disorders. Knowing all of the students that are in the program, I can honestly say that they are some of the most dedicated and hard-working people I have ever met. Having this chapter at Queens College helps provide all of these students with information and a sense of unity.
Can you tell my readers about the upcoming Glow for the Cure Walk being held on campus?
Stephanie: The Glow for the Cure Walk is something that we are both very proud of and it is something that has never before been done by any club on campus. It is the first ever campus wide organized walk on the Queens College Track. It is taking place November 15 from 4:30-6:30 pm. All proceeds from this walk will be going towards the American Cancer Society. We have a DJ with a light display, a performance from some students from the Music Department, tons of glow in the dark decorations, glow in the dark balloons, and raffle prizes. It is open to both the entire student body as well as the community. We encourage everyone to bring their friends and family to come out, support a great cause, and have some fun!
Why did you decide to enter into the field of Speech-Language Pathology?
Stephanie: I initially started out as a double major in Elementary Education and English with a minor in Music. I was never really truly happy with my intended choice of profession. It was only when I was taking a child, who is a friend of my family, to speech pathology sessions that I was exposed to the field. I was able to participate in sessions and see this child’s language as well as his self-confidence grow. It was like witnessing a magic trick enfold. It was the best decision of my life to enter this field and I have never been happier.
Marina: If you had asked me this question two years ago, my answer would have probably been much shorter than it is now. I remember when I was a senior in high school and I told my classmates that I was going to major in Speech Language Pathology. They had no idea what that meant, in fact, they still don’t; I find this very amusing. I cannot tell you how many times the pediatrician I worked for would have to remind me via the phone intercom that I spent too much time with the children on the hearing and vision exam. I often felt the need to spend more time with the children with developmental delays as well as the ones who were too young or too shy to follow directions. Every interaction with a child was an opportunity for me to play the role of a Speech Language Pathologist and what I realized is that there always seemed to be a way into making every child compliant. To do this, I had to apply different methods for different children, as what worked for some, did not work for others. It was through those interactions that I truly fell in love with the field. I volunteered at numerous places prior to declaring my major and developed a strong interest in autism. Since then, my curiosity has only grown stronger and I owe that to the LCD faculty.
Can you reflect on this semester and what some of your plans are for NSSLHA for the Spring semester?
Marina: So much to do and… only one more semester to go. One of our goals for this semester was to make NSSLHA a club known campus-wide and we did that by collaborating with other clubs and by planning an event that will involve the entire student body: our Glow for the Cure walk! With the help of over 110 dedicated members, we have been able to raise awareness for many causes and give back to the community through our walks and bake sales. The biggest joy of all has been seeing the attendance rise at every consecutive meeting and we will do our best to continue that trend next semester. We have many projects in mind for next semester one of which is a book drive that will again involve the entire school. We will also be planning our end of the year Awards Ceremony that will be a commemorative dinner for all the members who have dedicated their time into helping NSSLHA reach new heights.
A very special thank you to Marina and Stephanie for taking time out of their busy schedules to be interviewed. I’m so excited for the Glow for the Cure Walk! I encourage everyone to come help NSSLHA support a great cause, the American Cancer Society. Below is the official event flier. See you there!