Calvin speech pathology and audiology students displayed their skills and knowledge earlier this month when they won a Knowledge Bowl competition at the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) convention on Nov. 12-14 in Denver, Colo.
To gain a regional spot in the competition, association members had to compose an essay elaborating why they wanted to participate, as well as their planned uses for the $1,000 prize if they won. In all, there were 10 five-person teams from across the nation at the competition, with Calvin’s team composed of Lauren Schrotenboer, Sarah Weiss, Kendra Burmeister, Janelle Agren and Makenzie Kuipers.
The president of National Student Speech-Language Hearing Association (NSSLHA), senior Chelsea Bischer, wrote the essay that allowed Calvin to qualify, focusing her essay on how her team would use the prize money to benefit the community and more specifically to help pay for Girl’s Club, an organization for developmentally challenged young adults, according to Calvin News. Bischer was not able to compete due to a conflicting research poster presentation.
The competition, which was set up like Jeopardy, quizzed the participants of Calvin’s branch of the NSSLAH on students’ academic and applied clinical knowledge, pulling sample questions from the Praxis national board exam, according to the Holland Sentinel. After students chose a clue, ranging from 100 to 500 points each, from one of the five categories, teams worked together to come up with an answer.
“One question involved a case study of a client with dementia who also had a swallowing disorder,” said Burmeister, a second-year student in Calvin’s speech-language pathology master’s program. “We then had to decide what treatment would be appropriate given the client’s cognitive skills and risk of aspiration, or having the food/liquid go into his lungs.”
As the competition advanced to the final round, Calvin was 600 points behind the leader, University of Iowa. Encouraged by Calvin’s cheering section, the team wagered all their points knowing they had a shot at winning.
“So we bid it all,” Burmeister said. “Then we were just waiting and holding hands in anticipation. After they announced [we won], I lost my voice because I screamed so loud. It was just really fun. The adrenaline was pumping the last 10 minutes because we were all so anxious.”
She added that she was proud of the team for standing up against larger universities whose branches of NSSLHA had prepared specifically for the Knowledge Bowl, whereas Calvin’s team was able to pull out and apply what they were learning in classes and clinical work.
Denise Makuch, the faculty advisor of the club, expressed how much of a privilege it was for 10 of Calvin’s students to attend the AHSA conference, a conference attended by more than 14,000 speech-language pathologists and audiologists as well as students, according to Calvin News. Aside from the competition, attendees were able to learn about recent research, as well as gain skills and resources in the field. The competition allowed students to display what Calvin offers and how they are being equipped for their future.
“Compet[ing] against that many teams in the nation and win shows that they’re prepared for their future careers and they could apply the knowledge that they’ve learned in the academic setting,” said Makuch.