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SMC raises awareness for disorders

Bridget Feeney | Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Saint Mary’s chapter of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association (NSSHLA) hosted an event highlighting the professions available to students interested in communicative disorders Sunday.

Current Saint Mary’s students and high school seniors from the South Bend community attended the free event to learn more about the professions and collect more information about the communicative disorders major at Saint Mary’s.

The event featured student speakers, tours of the pathology and audiology labs at Saint Mary’s and a discussion panel with current speech and language pathologists and audiologists from the community.

Senior Elizabeth Downs, vice president of the Saint Mary’s NSSHLA chapter, organized the event and spoke to prospective students.

“We think it’s very important to promote our major because not many people know what we do,” she said. “It’s a great profession to go into, especially if you enjoy helping others. I fell in love with the intro class I took and I am really happy with my decision [to be a communicative disorders major].”

Senior Lori LeClere, president of the Saint Mary’s NSSHLA chapter, said advertising the important need for communicative disorders majors was a goal of Sunday’s event.

“We hope students learn about the career path — what they can do, where they can do it,” she said. “We want them to get an inside view of what speech pathology and audiology are. I came to Saint Mary’s without knowledge of the profession, so we feel it is necessary to educate others about what we do.”

Downs and LeClere agreed that knowledge and awareness of professions in communicative disorders are crucial to getting more students interested in being involved.

Some current communicative disorders majors were unaware that the major even existed before starting at Saint Mary’s.

“I came to Saint Mary’s as a biology major,” junior Maria Malm said. “I had a general interest in helping others, and when I took the Intro to Communicative Disorders class and did my observation of others, I discovered I really enjoyed helping others. I decided to switch majors.”

Malm said she hoped the NSSHLA event on Sunday stimulated more interest in the communicative disorders major, as the need for qualified therapists, pathologists and audiologists continues to rise.

“Communication is essential to having high quality of life,” she said. “There is a great need for speech pathology to help others communicate their needs and wants. I look forward to helping others and getting a hands on feel for giving a voice to those with communicative disorders.”