Regional Councilor Ryann Akolkar
Contact Ryann at NSSLHA.Region9@gmail.com.
Major: Speech-language pathology
Expected date of graduation: May 2016
University: University of Texas at Austin
Connect with other students in Region 9: Region 9 Facebook page, ASHA Community Region 9
Interest Statement: Having been involved with speech-language pathology continuously for nine years first as a high school intern to my most current roles as graduate student clinician, research and teaching assistant, and NSSLHA member at the University of Texas at Austin, I am deeply invested in being part of the enrichment of the field. Like NSSLHA, I aim to enhance the academic, pre-professional development, and networking experiences for students in the field of communication sciences and disorders.
I stay active in my community in my role as the student representative on the Texas Speech-Language-Hearing Association's (TSHA) Committee on Cultural and Linguistic Diversity (CLD). We meet face-to-face or remotely as committee members to strategically analyze and provide resources for clinicians, students, and community members regarding multilingual and multicultural issues. Collaborating as a team member to produce and edit articles annually for our publication, Communicologist, I have cultivated both technical and interpersonal skills such as writing a feature article and communicating effectively with members during the review process. My commitment to the advancement of students in our field is evident as the main contributor to the February 2015 article explicitly guiding future clinicians in the areas of graduate school application process, professional development, and participation in cultural diversity. Additionally, as a mentor to undergraduate students in the Intellectual Entrepreneurship program, I educate others on résumé and personal statement development, and share about the daily life of a graduate student, including course expectations, time management, and research involvement. My current NSSLHA chapter is heavily geared toward undergraduate involvement yet I participate in meetings that forge relationships between undergraduate and graduate members such as graduate school information sessions. In the past I proposed to my former NSSLHA chapter a creative aging program modeled on my non-profit work at Lifetime Arts to increase student engagement with older adults promoting an area sometimes underserved.
I believe my skills from my leadership positions, my administrative knowledge gained from working at Lifetime Arts as a Program Assistant and Teaching Assistant at UT Austin could be beneficial to NSSLHA's Executive Council. My understanding and dedication to the betterment of students and polices in our field combined with my professional experiences writing essential reports, presenting research, and e-mail marketing to thousands of contacts make me a fit for NSSLHA's Regional Councilor position. Serving on the TSHA CLD committee and mentoring have prepared me to represent student interests on ASHA boards and committees, and state and local events. If given this opportunity to be part of the Executive Council, I feel confident I can work with others to establish and implement national and regional goals, develop communication plans within my region, and review the annual budget as evidenced by my previous duties in my role at the non-profit. It would be an honor to be part of this esteemed team to work with inspiring individuals who are at the forefront of our field advocating for the voice of the student.
The Future of NSSLHA: NSSLHA has created an invaluable avenue of connecting students with clinical and research sources, a variety of publications, and network of peers! Building on these accomplishments, I would like to be part of a movement enriching the relationship between undergraduate and graduate students by creating national and local projects that bridge the gap, promote collaboration, and drive innovation in our field. Through NSSLHA, initiatives that pair graduates and undergraduates in a mentor role could be beneficial in creating a larger professional network as well as connect peers who might find it daunting to interface only with professors. Since graduate students have recently been through the application process successfully and undergraduates are eager to obtain information on how to be admitted, it would be a natural fit. Similarly, for students considering a doctoral degree wanting to hear first-hand about this experience from a current doctoral student, a peer networking program could alleviate some of the intimidation and foster greater interest in doctoral studies and research.
Moreover, continuing on last year's ASHA Convention theme of science, learning, and practice, I would like to be part of NSSLHA's Executive Council to create local and national programs and activities that promote involvement in research. By implementing incentive participation in research themed activities such as Special Interest Group meetings inspired by ASHA that meet periodically to discuss a related peer-reviewed article or the creation of informal research projects such as surveys in areas of interest or measuring noise pollution and various speech and hearing metrics on campus. Participation will aim to make science and evidence based practice more clinically accessible while encouraging future clinicians to pursue clinical research to fill the need for communication sciences and disorders professors and researchers.
Lastly, having recently gone through the application process and reading many mentees' and students' application materials, I propose more resources for professional development. Students could greatly benefit from specific résumé building tips created by professionals in the field as well as how to represent oneself in a statement of purpose. Additional information could address topics such as email etiquette, professional dress in various settings, interviewing for graduate schools or jobs, cultural competence, time management, networking, and other related themes. Interviews from professors and professionals who admit and hire students providing case study like anecdotes from the field would create a deeper understanding of the expectations and provide opportunities for professional growth based on evidence.
It would be an honour to work with other members of the Executive Council to create and implement any of the above programs to equip students with additional networking and professional skills.
NSSLHA Benefits: NSSLHA undoubtedly has proven to be an effective broad forum for surfacing, discussing, and enacting student involvement in a variety of settings in communication sciences and disorders. Since joining NSSLHA in 2007, I first benefited from the organization by developing a strong peer network, connecting with faculty at my university, and becoming involved in volunteering efforts in our community. As my involvement increased over time, I became active in NSSLHA's fundraising efforts to support individuals living with communication
disorders and proposed community projects.
The benefits of NSSLHA are boundless as we are presented with resources ranging from access to clinical, professional, and research information and publications to opportunities in active roles in governmental processes. NSSLHA recognizes the efforts of its members by awarding honours, granting scholarships, and promoting growth. Moreover, NSSLHA assists in the transition from an undergraduate student to graduate student and finally a professional setting from an academic setting. NSSLHA is in a powerful position to evolve national student involvement in our field by building peer mentoring relationships between undergraduate and graduate students within and across chapters. By implementing incentive participation in research themed activities, increased participation would facilitate the use of evidence based practice and heighten interest in doctoral studies. Lastly, NSSLHA is an ideal platform for the union of students and detailed professional development as they transition from undergraduate to graduate students to budding clinicians and researchers in our field.
Regional Delegate Yoseline Gonzalez
Major: Speech-language pathology
University: University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
Area of professional interest: Child language
NSSLHA Benefits: Exploring new possibilities will help develop an interest in a profession. NSSLHA is a large organization that has a variety of benefits. The greatest benefit of being a NSSLHA member is the opportunity to meet people from different ethnicities that share the same passion, helping others. Networking with other students helps bring ideas together about how to provide the best care possible to our clients. NSSLHA events will help students give back to their community. NSSLHA provides students with current, up-to-date articles, journals, and research to help students advocate for their profession. It is crucial for students to stay informed of new research and articles being published so they provide optimal treatment to our clients. If students are active and involved within our field it will help them explore new possibilities through NSSLHA and become better supporters. I would like to become the ASHA 2015–2017 regional delegate to keep our fellow students up to date with current research and to become more involved with NSSLHA myself. Presenting at state and local conferences will help me
bring students together to learn more about our life-changing profession.