Calvin College Chimes

Student org spotlight: NSSLHA

Photo courtesy NSSLHA

Photo courtesy NSSLHA

Photo courtesy NSSLHA

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Many people may assume that NSSLHA, National Student Speech, Language and Hearing Association, is merely an extension of the speech pathology and audiology major. However, there is much more to this student organization.

“We are a professional based org, but we also want to foster a communal atmosphere,” said NSSLHA student leader Mallika David. NSSLHA at Calvin is a chapter of a 44-year-old national speech pathology and audiology group that has over 13,000 members nationally in over 300 colleges and universities.

The role of NSSLHA at Calvin is “to bring in educational speakers, educate the community about speech pathology and audiology, commune with people with similar ideas and glean off of them,” Mallika said.

Mallika chose a leadership position in NSSLHA because she “resonated with the idea to commune with people who have the same ideas.” Additionally, by taking on a leadership role, she saw a way to bring the community together, not just by herself but also as a group.  

NSSLHA consists of two primary events: the first is called Girls Club and the second is listening to educational speakers from all over the nation, sometimes even speakers from abroad.

Despite its name, Girls Club is much more than just girls meeting together. Girls Club is where girls from the community who are cognitively impaired, such as girls with down syndrome or those on the autism spectrum, come to Calvin and play games with group members, along with other recreational therapy activities.

Students from all years of speech pathology organize Girls Club, which gives them the opportunity to interact with people on a voluntary and basic level.

An additional, new activity the group members of NSSLHA participate in is the mentor-mentee program, which consists of a grad student or upperclassman partnering with a lowerclassman, both of which are speech pathology and audiology majors. By having a student who has already been through various classes and are possibly in the graduate program, the lowerclassman has someone to connect with and answer their questions.

“This program helps people connect with someone,” Mallika said, “It fosters and cultivates an environment that is comfortable and healthy. There are already 60 people signed up for this program.”

What happens if a group member attends more than 6 events? The student is able to enter into the national society, American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA for short) which grants them access to scholarly journals and conferences.

Although this is not the primary reason for joining, having the ASHA membership will aid in applying for graduate programs. Also, being a part of ASHA, members are aware of the newest information in the field, so there is a big advantage for speech pathology majors who are a member of ASHA.

“NSSLHA is a good way to take your major and make it an active part of your life,” said Shawna Smith, a NSSLHA member. Another group member, Tara Oskam, said that she enjoys being a participant in NSSLHA because “it is really nice to meet with speech pathology majors from all ages and participate in activities or listen to speakers.”

As with all student organizations, despite being a major-specific organization, this group is open to all students. This group is a great place to better understand a family member or friend and is also a great opportunity for other therapy majors, such as physical and recreational therapy, to view and appreciate a different form of therapy.

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