CUNY, Lehman College: 2021 Chapter of the Year

Each year, NSSLHA chapters participate in NSSLHA Chapter Honors—vying for gold, silver, and bronze status. Despite the pandemic, stay-at-home orders, and virtual academic programs this past year, NSSLHA chapters persevered—showing just how important it is to maintain a sense of community through it all! We’re continuously wowed by the incredible work each chapter puts into reaching their goals . . . and this year was no exception! Check out the full list of 2021 Chapter Honors awardees.

Our Chapter of the Year award acknowledges the extraordinary efforts of one chapter from the Gold Honors category. This year, we’re proud to award the NSSLHA chapter at the City University of New York (CUNY), Lehman College, with this award! We were particularly impressed by the lengths these students went to in maintaining connections throughout this difficult year—with each other, their professions, and their local community.

Connecting With Each Other

90% of this chapter’s e-board is composed of students who identify as a person of color—representing their diverse chapter membership at both the undergrad and graduate levels. They function as a think tank—integrating broad ideas and new perspectives into their programming, while simultaneously “having each other’s backs.”

In the Bronx (where Lehman College is located), food insecurity has a devastating impact on students, including NSSLHA chapter members. To respond to this crisis, the chapter collaborated with the Lehman College Food Bank to organize a food drive using an Amazon shopping list. Not only was the chapter able to stock the shelves, but by going through their Amazon Smiles account, $0.5% of donations made were donated to the Lehman College Research Foundation for student scholarships.

Due to the impacts of Covid-19, many students also found it difficult to pay for coursework and/or National NSSLHA membership during this past year. The chapter came together to hold a sweatshirt fundraiser—raising enough money to award their first-ever Lehman College NSSLHA Chapter Scholarship. Through collaborative fundraising and advocacy efforts with Lehman’s Campus Life, the chapter was also approved a budget of $1,000 to pay for 16 National NSSLHA memberships.

Additionally, the Lehman chapter created a sub-committee, Speechies4Diversity, with the goal of furthering discussions about the need for diversity and inclusion within CSD. During their inaugural event, more than 50 students (led by alumni) discussed how to identify, confront, and change behaviors like microaggressions and implicit biases.

Building Academic and Professional Connections

During Student Advocacy Day last fall, the Lehman College NSSLHA chapter focused their legislative advocacy efforts on 2 initiatives:

  1. asking Congress to ensure legislation for grants to increase diversity in accredited audiology and speech-language pathology programs, and
  2. ensuring adequate Covid-19 relief to audiologists, SLPs, and students.

First, they educated students about pending legislative budgets and policies that may impact the professions, clients, and/or billing practices. Then, they empowered students to advocate on these issues by submitting ASHA Take Action letters.

Connecting With Their Community

Additionally, after transitioning their on-campus clinic to provide teletherapy due to Covid-19, chapter members advocated worked with their local councilman’s office to designate the month of May as “Telepractice Awareness Month” in the Bronx, New York City. This was primarily to advocate for accessible telehealth services for the elderly population, as well as to expand Medicare coverage for audiology and speech-language pathology services delivered via telehealth during the Covid-19 (especially for those in rural and medically underserved areas).

The Lehman NSSLHA chapter also pledged to highlight underrepresented voices throughout the year. Last fall, they hosted a panel discussion, Virtual Conversations Post Brain Injury: Understanding Through Our Voices. Panelists included adult clients who were receiving speech and language services (due to stroke or traumatic brain injury) at the Lehman College Speech and Hearing Center—sharing first-hand accounts of their experiences living with mild to severe aphasia. Family members also joined as participants.

While many schools were completely remote due to the global pandemic—curtailing their on-campus student activities—the Lehman College NSSLHA chapter rose to the challenge and embraced the new virtual world. By getting creative and offering virtual opportunities, this chapter continued to support their chapter members and local communities through a difficult year. Congrats again to the CUNY, Lehman College, NSSLHA chapter for their success!

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