Student wins first place in ASHA ethics essay contest

Marshall University student Malayna Bailey won first place in the 2017 Student Ethics Essay Award (SEEA) contest sponsored by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).

Bailey, a 25 year-old graduate student in the university’s Department of Communication Disorders, was selected as the first-place winner for her essay titled, "Prognostic Statements, Client Success, and Clinical Caution," which focused on the speech-language pathologist’s task of writing prognostic statements regarding the therapeutic outcomes of clients.

"I wanted to answer the question: ‘How can we avoid crossing the line between an ethical prognostic conclusion and an irrational guarantee?’ This is something clinicians face every single time they evaluate a client—finding the middle ground between giving clients false hope and writing them off as failures before giving them a chance to succeed," Bailey said.  "I think that my essay addressed something relatable to every speech-language pathologist and it provided caution about something that can be done unethically without even realizing it."

Bailey said the Department of Communication Disorders has always placed an emphasis on not only learning academic material, but understanding how to ethically implement what is taught.

"Each communication disorders student listens to the ASHA Code of Ethics in every course and is expected to uphold those standards long before they engage in the professional world," she said. "Each student is also able to see the Code of Ethics upheld by all members of the faculty. This essay was a result of my education over the past five years."

Bailey said she has always been interested in health care and the reward of educating others.

"I think speech-language pathology ties those two things together perfectly. I wanted a career in which I could learn something new and impact the lives of others every day—I think I found the right field," Bailey said. "I feel incredibly honored and thankful. ASHA is the national organization for my field. Considering the number of deserving students I was competing against as well as the high standards that ASHA upholds as an organization—what an honor!"

As the first-place winner, Bailey will receive $750, a certificate of achievement, one student registration to ASHA’s 2017 Annual Convention in Los Angeles (does not include travel, lodging, or special sessions), a one-year national NSSLHA membership and an invitation to the NSSLHA Luncheon and Honors Ceremony during the 2017 convention.

For more information on ASHA, visit To learn more about the Department of Communication Disorders housed in the university’s College of Health Professions, visit


Photo: Malayna Bailey, a 25 year-old graduate student from Moorefield, West Virginia, will graduate in August with her master’s degree in communication disorders with hopes of becoming a speech-language pathologist. She is the first-place recipient of the 2017 Student Ethics Essay Award (SEEA) contest sponsored by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).