Every fall, thousands of Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) and Audiologists gather for the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s (ASHA) national convention. ASHA is the national professional, scientific and credentialing association for the hundreds of thousands of professionals and students involved in the speech-language and hearing field.
This convention is a three-day educational event that provides opportunities for professionals and students to gain knowledge, advance their skills and make new connections in the speech-language therapy world. Undergraduate students may feel a bit overwhelmed to think about attending an event where the most educated and prominent figures in the field gather to share ideas and visions for the future of the profession, I know I did.
What I did not expect, however, was to be swept up in the encouraging atmosphere that the convention becomes. To be surrounded by thousands of people who are just as passionate about their career as you are is an incredible feeling.
Here are the top 10 takeaways on why you should attend the National ASHA Convention as a student:
- Get to know your professors and other classmates: As a student in an online program, you do not get the chance for as much face-to-face time with your professors and other students as on-campus students do. However, the ASHA convention can be that opportunity to meet your professors and fellow classmates!
- Sign up for a volunteer opportunity: Thinking of ways to beef up your graduate school applications? ASHA provides the opportunity for CSD students to volunteer at the conference. You only have to commit to one day; the rest of the time is yours to do with as you please! Bonus: if you are selected as a volunteer, your conference fee is paid for by ASHA!
- Get the full NSSLHA experience: The ASHA convention is not only for SLP and Audiology professionals; there are plenty of activities for students as well. Get the chance to meet other Communication Sciences & Disorders students and your National NSSLHA team at the NSSLHA welcome party or luncheon.
- Meet graduate students: There will be a large number of graduate students that attend the convention. They will be presenting oral presentations and posters. Introduce yourself to a few- they may be able to provide you with some pointers on how to get into graduate school.
- Earn FREE goodies: There is a HUGE vendor fair that lasts the entirety of the convention. Some vendors have free goodies that are yours for the taking! (SUPER DUPER bag anyone?)
- Networking with professionals: You never know who you might meet. My first night at the convention, I met the CEO of ASHA, the current ASHA President, the National NSSLHA President, and many previous ASHA presidents. Don’t be afraid to be social and meet people. You never know what these connections could mean for you in the future!
- Attend oral seminars: If you are interested in attending some oral presentations, there are literally hundreds to choose from! You may even be lucky enough to listen to a presentation done by one of your professors!
- Experience a new city: What better way to explore a new city and/or state, than surrounded by people who are just as passionate about the CSD field as you are?
- Make lasting memories: I will never forget my first experience at the National Convention. I made a few friends and met some amazing people in our field. Every day was a new adventure!
- HAVE FUN! Where else are you going to be surrounded by thousands of professionals who are as passionate about helping others communicate as you are? There are so many fun activities that the convention puts on, you will never have to worry about being bored.
Chelsea Woodard is a 2017 USF Sarasota-Manatee graduate in Communication Sciences and Disorders. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology at James Madison University.