My bachelor’s degree isn’t in CSD, so when I started my post-baccalaureate at Cal State LA in 2014 I was new to speech-language pathology. I wanted to learn as much as I could about the field, get involved, and put myself in environments where I could gain insights from other students and professionals.
To accomplish all of this, I got involved in my state association—the California Speech-Language-Hearing Association (CSHA)—by joining as a student member and signing up to attend CSHA’s Annual Convention.
Attending the CSHA Convention opened my eyes to the idea that being an SLP was more than just the job. It taught me the importance of networking with professionals in the field, continuing my education by researching the most current evidence to guide my clinical work, and being active at the state level.
Increasing NSSLHA Student Participation in CSHA
In 2017, CSHA created a student ambassador position within their Board of Directors. The ambassador, Beth Pioli, was excited to increase student involvement between CSHA and California NSSLHA chapters. She asked me to work with her on this project since I was Cal State LA’s new NSSLHA chapter president.
Beth and I met with CSD students from across the entire state of California who were also actively working to increase student involvement with CSHA. In order to reach the most students, Beth recognized that we needed to connect with student leaders within NSSLHA chapters and I was a bridge to that relationship. This gave me the opportunity to attend a Board of Directors (BOD) meeting, where two other student leaders and I shared our plan to meet this goal with the CSHA BOD.
Our plan was to be in constant communication with students and CSHA leaders across the state by holding conference calls, writing articles in the CSHA magazine, participating in student events on campuses to promote CSHA, and inviting students to attend CSHA Board of Directors meeting. By creating more opportunities for student involvement and increasing awareness about the resources CSHA provides for students then students would become more interested in getting involved.
Our efforts increased the opportunities for student involvement within CSHA—student attendance at CSHA BOD meetings, participation during CSHA’s annual convention, contributions to the CSHA magazine, and development of leadership skills through their district’s advisory board meetings.
Opening Doors Through My State Association
I, myself, attended advisory committee meetings, volunteered at the CSHA Convention and other workshops, met professionals in the field, and attended a BOD meeting. I was able to see what leaders in our field were actively working on, built connections within our field, and networked with other student leaders. It really encouraged me to keep the momentum and be a leader in the field as a professional!
Although volunteering with CSHA was an added responsibility to my already-full-course-load, I never felt like it was too much to handle. Because I worked with other students, we all understood that our coursework was most important. We were there to cover for each other at CSHA events when school took priority. If I couldn’t attend an event, I could easily contact a fellow student to attend and give me an update afterwards. It was a welcoming and supportive environment … and as a result, it didn’t add stress to my grad coursework.
I encourage all of you to get involved with your state association! Not only will it make you a better clinician and future leader, but you never know what opportunities might arise, what connections you can build, and knowledge you can gain from joining.