My parents showed me from a young age the positive results of giving back to your community. One way I recently followed their example was creating the Central High School Alumni Give-Back Service Project: Career Day & Scholarship Contest.
I attended Central High School (CHS) Magnet Career Academy in Louisville, Kentucky. At CHS I was in the Therapeutics Magnet program, where I learned about and decided to become a speech-language pathologist. Through the program, I volunteered in the speech pathology department at Louisville Frazier Rehabilitation Center. During this time, I met teachers, mentors and other professionals who made sure I was on a path to success.
Tapping into my parents’ example of community giving and my love for my alma mater, I wanted to make sure CHS students have opportunities similar to the ones I had. The Career Day and scholarship contest provide a specialized experience for CHS students, who attend high-quality presentations, participate in hands-on activities, engage in mentoring relationships, write college letters of intent, create resumes, and apply for college and scholarships.
Through fundraising efforts, we also provide $1,500 in scholarship awards for students!
Another rewarding part of this project involves educating CHS students—and faculty—about where we practice and who we serve in speech-language pathology. In my career day presentation, I address multiple areas, including speech, language, voice, cognition, swallowing and more.
I really have fun demonstrating live fiberoptic endoscopic evaluation of swallowing and laryngeal visualization and giving a hands-on simulation of tracheostomy/ventilators with speaking valves, so students can experience what I do.
Other audiologists and SLPs can replicate this Career Day event as a fun way to give back and raise awareness of our professions in your community.
Here’s how I planned and executed the project:
- Create a purpose, objectives and rationale. Decide how to conduct your Career Day and what demonstrations to use for a high-quality, engaging presentations to inform students and hold their attention.
- Connect with school administrators and propose your Career Day Service Project.
- Meet with the school administrators to share your purpose, objectives and rationale. If they accept your proposal, work with administrators to further plan or revise details, such as date, how long the event will last, and who will participate.
- Invite colleagues from related professions to share their expertise as well. You can include audiologists and SLPs in various work settings, physical and occupational therapists, and nurses.
- On Career Day, maintain a positive attitude, get ready to educate, and have fun with the students.
A Career Day event can make a lasting impact in the lives of students and bring others into our professions. If you have questions about hosting your own Career Day, please ask in the comment section below. And feel free to share your ideas for other service projects to raise awareness of audiology and speech-language pathology!
Jamie D. Fisher, PhD, CCC-SLP, is owner of the Nashville Speech & Swallowing Specialists, PLLC. She also works at SA Swallowing Services, and is an adjunct professor at University of Maryland College Park and Tennessee State University. firstname.lastname@example.org