WOOSTER, Ohio – The poster sessions at the recent AG Bell Listening and Spoken Language Symposium, a professional conference to help families, healthcare providers, and education professionals understand hearing loss and the importance of early diagnosis and intervention, took on a distinctly Wooster feel. Nine of the 15 posters accepted for display in the Crystal Gateway Marriott at Arlington, Va., June 30-July 1, were presented by recent College of Wooster graduates.
“Very unusual. This is a (biennial) conference, and as with most, there are poster presentation opportunities,” explained Don Goldberg, who has been a professor of communication sciences and disorders (CSD) at Wooster for 16 years. “We’ve had 30 Independent Studies (I.S.) presented at professional meetings throughout the years, but to have nine at one convention is unbelievable.”
Wooster’s nine alumni – Matt Ehrenburg ’16, Logan Honea ’16, Marissa Kobylas ’16, Kelsey Large ’16, Moira McShane ’16, Zack Moore ’16, Frayne Poeting ’16, Bridget Slone ’17, and Lena Smith ’16 – presented on a variety of topics within the audiology and speech-language pathology fields. Areas addressed included different types of pediatric cochlear implants, transitioning to a mainstream classroom, the integration of music therapy and cochlear implants, and even hearing assistive technology and accommodations at U.S. theme parks.
“The professional level of these former students’ research questions, the methodology followed, and their insightful and rigorous analyses and discussions of their I.S. findings has truly been exceptional. I am so proud of each of them,” Goldberg said.
Most of the 400-plus attendees, which included representatives from 12 countries, likely left with an extremely favorable impression of Wooster’s CSD program. One who certainly did was Ellen Thomas, a senior speech-language pathologist at the University of Michigan’s Department of Otolaryngology who just so happens to have a son enrolled at Wooster (he’s a junior chemistry major), as she “was shocked … to see that type of research from undergrads” at her professional conference.
“The posters are usually professionals in the field … people with master’s degrees or beyond,” added Thomas. “There were nine by Wooster undergrads, and they were good. They had valid topics, presenting good data in a clear way. These were the kind of young professionals that I hope to see entering my field.”
Those types of compliments have become commonplace for Goldberg, who also is a consultant at the Cleveland Clinic Hearing Implant Program, and thus sees patients during the summer, an experience he brings to the classroom and leads to I.S. topics at times. “There’s no question the caliber of students has always been impressive. We have an incredible record of acceptance into graduate programs,” he said.
“Wooster is a diamond in the rough,” continued Goldberg. “(Many of) our CSD students go all throughout the U.S. to grad schools, and (those faculty) routinely come back to me, and say that a Wooster student is the best grad student we’ve had. CSD students here get to be clinicians at the Freedlander Speech and Hearing Clinic, experience I.S., and then are the best candidates to succeed in graduate school and professionally.”
Moore, Poeting, and Smith also presented their I.S.’s at the Early Hearing Detection & Intervention (EHDI) annual meeting in Atlanta this year, and Moore’s poster, “Factors that Influence Device Selection by Parents of Pediatric Cochlear Implant Candidates,” earned a blue ribbon for best poster at the meeting, according to Goldberg. Moore’s was the best amongst approximately 40 posters completed by those who had already earned advanced degrees or were professional researchers/clinicians.
Moore is currently pursuing a doctorate of audiology (Au.D.) at the University of South Florida, Poeting is working for an audiology organization in Pittsburgh, and Smith is in the master’s program for speech-language pathology at the University of Iowa. The latter is considered one of the best in the country, as are the programs at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Washington, where Kobylas and McShane, respectively, are enrolled for advanced degrees. Ehrenburg is preparing for medical school at Johns Hopkins University, Honea is in the Au.D. program at the University of Texas at Dallas, and Large will soon begin a position as a teacher of the hearing impaired in Ohio after earning a master’s degree this summer.