Olivia Aloisi ‘20SLP, didn’t realize how attending a conference could help her narrow the focus on what she wanted to do with her career. But that’s what happened when she attended the recent American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) conference.
After attending a session by Amy Wetherby, director of the Autism Institute at the Florida State University College of Medicine, Aloisi now wants to steer her career toward working in early intervention with patients from birth to age 3.
“I have an interest in autism and I thought it was very interesting that she discussed the distinguishing characteristics of whether a child has a language delay or they are at risk of having autism,” she said. “I didn’t know that you could see signs and risks in a child at 18 months. The shocking statistic that autism can be diagnosed between 18 and 24 months really stood out for me.”
Aloisi was among several Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology students from Salus who attended the conference Nov. 21-23 in Orlando, Fla. As a second-time attendee and with an extra year of education under her belt, Aloisi was better prepared on how to take advantage of what this year’s conference offered.
“My interests changed drastically from last year to this year. Over the past year, I’ve learned so much more, so my interest in going increased,” she said. “I’d grown so much in my knowledge of the profession. My interests had changed and transformed, so that made me want to experience going to different seminars. And, connecting with other professionals and hearing their perspectives on the populations that they treat and the setting that they work in. I wanted to experience all of that.”
The ASHA conference is billed as the most comprehensive education event in the world for speech, language and hearing professionals that provides attendees an opportunity to learn about the latest research, expand clinical skills and techniques, and find new products and resources and network with colleagues while earning continuing education credits.
Those networking opportunities were what really appealed to Payton Burke ’21 AUD, who was one of three Doctor of Audiology students – along with Danielle Hayden ’21 AUD, and Cassandra “Cassie” Stevens ’21 AUD – who attended the conference. “Since we were there in a specialized group, we were able to meet some of the other audiology students from around the country,” said Burke.
Burke’s fourth-year externship in 2020-2021 will be at the Walter Reed Military Hospital in Washington, D.C. At the conference, she met two other students – one from Kansas and the other from Bloomsburg, Pa. – who will also be doing externships in the D.C. area as well. In addition, Burke met two retired audiologists that worked in the U.S. Army, who offered her tips and advice for doing an externship at a military hospital.
It was the largest conference she had attended and she was able to secure some help that made it easier to attend.
“There are so many resources that are available. For instance, the Alumni Association was able to help – I applied for their travel grant and I was granted money through that, which was great to help with the travel costs,” said Burke. “And, then through ASHA, they have ways to help as well. We didn’t have to pay our conference registration. It allowed students to go, which sounds so general, but a lot of students can’t go because of the financial aspect. There are so many programs and resources available to help the students go to continue expanding their education.”
After a day’s worth of conference activities, there were also nighttime networking events as well for the attendees. The University’s Alumni Association had an event – which also included in attendance University president Dr. Michael Mittelman; provost Dr. Barry Eckert; dean of the University’s Osborne College of Audiology, Dr. Radhika Aravamudhan; and interim chair and program director of the Speech-Language Pathology program, Robert Serianni, MS, CCC-SLP, FNAP..
“It is amazing to see our students participate in the national conference,” said Serianni. He noted that several SLP students that had completed capstone projects the prior year had them accepted as presentations as well. “Not only are Salus students and alumni a presence as attendees, but we get to enjoy them as presenters on the national stage.”
Those who attended the ASHA conference recommended other students try to attend conferences if feasible.
“If it’s in your budget and you have the funds to do so (attend the conference), I think it’s a great opportunity to expand your knowledge and connect with other professionals and grow in your interest and help you figure out what direction you want to head in your career,” said Aloisi.
“I think conferences in general are amazing. I was interested to see how it was going to go because it is very speech heavy. But I was very pleasantly surprised and I’ll probably go again in the future,” said Burke.