Women’s & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo recognized the Buffalo State chapter of the National Student Speech-Language-Hearing Association (NSSLHA) with a plaque at the Speech-Language Pathology Department’s annual Student Awards Banquet on May 3.
The plaque, presented by Susan M. Spanitz, senior major gifts and development officer with Foundations of Kaleida Health, reads in part “with gratitude for making a difference to children and families at the Women’s & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo Craniofacial Center of Western New York.” The center treats a number of disorders of the face and cranium, including clefts of the lip and palate. Children born with this condition must contend with repeated surgeries to correct it, and require speech-language pathology services to swallow safely and speak properly. Since 2006, the Buffalo State chapter of the NSSLHA has conducted several fundraising events each year to benefit the Craniofacial Center.
“I’m a strong believer in leadership development, and fundraising helps students develop skills and values that will serve them well in the profession and in their communities, including compassion for others, communication, organization, teamwork, and event planning,” said Constance Dean Qualls, professor and chair of Speech-Language Pathology and faculty adviser to the group. “The first year I worked with them, 2005, we raised $2,000 to help the Xavier University of Louisiana chapter of NSSLHA. Xavier is in New Orleans, and their clinic’s materials and supplies were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.”
This year’s executive board includes Jennifer Morse, president; Marcella Szatkowski, vice president; Alicia Vetter, secretary; Gina Giardina, treasurer; Stacy Kelly, historian, and Rachel Belcher, webmaster. In October 2012, the group presented $3,500 to the craniofacial center, bringing the total contribution to date to $17,000. This year, the group of 65-plus members raised a record $5,000 that will be added to that total.
The e-board members are graduating this year, but some plan to return in the fall to pursue an M.S.Ed. in speech-language pathology. The graduate program has grown in recent years; more than 200 students applied for 24 openings in fall 2013, according to Qualls. “Over the last six years,” she said, “100 percent of our graduates have passed the Praxis exam, which is necessary to earn American Speech-Language-Hearing Association certification, and 100 percent are employed.”