Communication Disorders program builds visibility with recent honors
Faculty and students from the Department of Communication Disorders have been honored by their state professional association, the Illinois Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ISHA).
Dr. Danielle Osmelak, assistant professor, was nominated to become a Fellow of the organization. In addition, Stephanie Kowalski and Jessica Molinar, both students in the Master of Health Science in Communication Disorders program, received "John Consalvi Service Scholarships." They were recognized at the association’s annual convention held February 3-4, in Rosemont, Ill.
“It’s a huge honor for Dr. Osmelak to be recognized by her peers in this way,” said Dr. Jessica Bonner, Chair, Department of Communication Disorders. “It means great visibility for our program and speaks to the quality of our faculty.” In her fifth year as a faculty member, Osmelak has made significant contributions to the department and the profession in research, teaching, and clinical education, Bonner added.
A nomination as a Fellow comes from ISHA members and also requires service to the organization. “When I found out about my Fellow nomination, I was both completely surprised and honored to be recognized by my peers,” said Osmelak.
Osmelak has been involved with ISHA for more than a decade and recently completed a three-year term as the vice president for the Division of Professional and Consumer Communication, a position on the executive board. Since 2015, she’s been a member of the Ethics Education Committee and was a co-founding member of the popular ISHA “Ethics in Action Student Video Contest.”
“Our goal is to connect students to ISHA and ethics with a collaborative creative event,” she said. During this academic year, six universities with a total of 75 undergraduate and graduate students participated.
In 2022, Osmelak received grant funding at GSU for a clinical tool to use with individuals who have Parkinson’s Disease. The Parkinson Voice Project "Speak Out! ®Grant" has provided communication disorders graduate students access to the "SPEAK OUT! ®& LOUD Crowd® Training" at no cost.
“This tool is a clinically proven speech therapy approach for individuals with Parkinson's,” said Osmelak. “It combines education, individual speech therapy, and ongoing group sessions. In total, 52 graduate students and two faculty members--myself included--completed the Parkinson’s speech therapy training, which will support our graduate students in their medical practicum and future neurogenic clinical caseloads.”
In addition to Dr. Osmelak's fellowship award, two GSU students, Stephanie Kowalski and Jessica Molinar, have logged enough impressive service experiences to qualify for "John Consalvi Service Scholarships" awarded by IHSA.
Among her many activities, Stephanie Kowalski has been very active as a graduate student in the Communication Disorders program. She has worked with people with developmental disabilities, autism, and acquired brain injury; volunteered at a private practice and at an aphasia camp hosted by March of Dimes; and volunteered to lead and support participants in the Stroke Support Group at GSU.
Jessica Molinar has compiled a long list of service activities, including volunteering with the American Red Cross; as an actor for the ISHA Ethics in Action contest; and with the student speech language and hearing association (NSSLHA) at GSU. For her honors capstone project, she presented “Tips & Tricks to Increase Language Development in Children” at GSU’s campus Family Development Center.
“All of my service experiences have impacted my life in different shapes and forms by doing things outside my comfort zone and learning from others,” Molinar said. “I’m grateful to have received this scholarship. I encourage other students to get involved and apply for scholarships!"
Osmelak sees vast benefits to student involvement in the ISHA and on campus. “My goal is for our students to connect with our state professional organization, ISHA, as early-career professionals because it fosters professional community, support, and advocacy,” she said. “I look forward to GSU students helping to shape the future of our profession through their commitment to service.”
For more information about GSU’s Communication Disorders program, contact Dr. Jessica Bonner, JBonner@govst.edu. Follow the department on Instagram, gsu.nsslha.