ASHA Convention: First-Timers’ Experiences

Those who presented at ASHA for the first time were asked to share about the adventure — here are some of their responses.

“Traveling to and touring Philadelphia was exciting. Experiencing historical sites such as the Liberty Bell was a great learning experience, but was only a small part of expanding my knowledge throughout the weekend. At the convention, I enjoyed viewing others research though poster presentations. The array of topics and levels of professionals were mind blowing to me. My poster presentation was the most exciting part of weekend for me. Multiple professionals in the field seemed genuinely interested in our study and some of them offered suggestions to publish the study or future directions we could take.” – Sarah M.

“My experience presenting my research at ASHA was very eye opening. Both at the university and state level, people had been very open to my research on adult nonreaders. To my surprise, people at ASHA seemed very uninterested or confrontational about the topic. For my future question listed on my poster, I asked “What is the role of the SLP in adult literacy?” Many people that came to the poster believed SLPs should not have a role. Even though child literacy is a huge part of SLPs caseloads, many people believed adult literacy was different. Some expressed the concern of payment. Who would pay SLPs for their service? Others believed they do not know enough to help adult nonreaders, but does anyone really know a great deal about adult literacy?
Although there were a lot of people that disagreed with my beliefs, others found the topic very interesting. One woman came to me and said it was the most interesting poster she had seen–that made me feel amazing. I guess I need to remember that adding child literacy to the SLPs scope of practice was a hot topic several years ago, and the addition of adult literacy is not any different. Although many people were not very receptive of my ideas, it was still a great experience. When I stood there defending my ideas, I felt like a pioneer of the field. I kept thinking this could be big! Any big idea starts out as a controversy. For example, the addition of child literacy, the existence of phonology, the use of maximal opposition approach were all once heavily debated. Who knows, adult literacy may be next!” – Sarah C.

“Our experience at ASHA was greater than we had even imagined. So many people came by our poster, we couldn’t believe it. Our poster was chosen for PROgeny (a program to support the next generation of researchers), so ASHA sent Dr. Christy Ludlow and Dr. Heather Bonilha to our poster to ask some questions. Dr. Ludlow was impressed and encouraged us to publish the work. She even offered to be a mentor through the publishing process. Dr. Bonilha was also impressed and had some fantastic ideas for future study. It was really an awesome feeling to be completely done with the study and even receive some praise for it.” – Taylor C.

“My ASHA experience was amazing. I was completely nervous before my poster presentation, but when I saw how many people were coming up to our poster and wanting to hear about our study, I was really impressed. Some people even had our presentation circled in their ASHA manual which was really exciting and made us feel very good and accomplished! I was scared that I would be asked questions that I didn’t know the answer to, but then I realized that talking about the study and answering questions was going to be quite easy because I lived and breathed the study for an entire year, so talking about it wasn’t going to be as difficult as I had originally thought!” – Brittany C.

“I was really surprised at the number of people who stopped by our poster and were genuinely interested in learning about what we researched. It was nice to be seen as a professional rather than just a student who did a project. Those who visited our poster thought we had developed a great program and encouraged us to continue the implementing the program.” – Jessie M.

“I had a wonderful experience at ASHA. It was exciting in itself just getting to travel with my fellow classmates and friends to a new city, but the feeling that I got when we reached the convention center was indescribable. To me, it was such a shock that I was about to present my research study to those who were unfamiliar to me, yet still, for some reason or another, these individuals were interested  in what I had to say. That was motivational for me.
I loved how the convention included poster sessions as well as seminars because not only could I walk around to learn about studies from various universities, but I could also attend meetings that gave me insight for future therapy. I had a great time with my CD family at ASHA and feel that it was an experience that benefited me in so many ways as an aspiring speech-language pathologist.” – Jenna R.