by Katie Stepp
The University of West Georgia’s Dr. Jessica Sullivan is now able to knock an item
off her career bucket list.
The American Speech-Language- Hearing Association (ASHA) Board of Directors recently named her as convention co-chair for the ASHA Convention in 2019.
ASHA is the governing body for the field of speech-language pathology and audiology. Composed of more than 100,000 members, the organization gives licensure for individuals to practice, advocates for members and administers academic program accreditations.
“This is a dream position for me,” shared Sullivan, assistant professor in the College of Education’s Department of Communication Sciences and Professional Counseling. “When I started out as a doctoral student, I was in the ASHA minority leadership program. That was my first real introduction to what ASHA was behind the scenes, and I learned it was more than just paying your dues every once in awhile. I can put a stamp on some programming. It’s really cool for me to figure out the best combination of topics I can put together to figure out the best program for everyone involved.”
This past November, professionals from all over the world attended the ASHA Convention in Los Angeles. Sullivan was honored to serve as a topic chair for a Convention Program Committee on Intervention/Rehabilitation of Hearing & Balance Disorders in Adults. She is excited to begin working with current convention co-chairs to get an idea of what it is going to be like before planning begins for the 2019 Convention.
“I’ve been on the programming committee for five or six years as a committee member under a topic chair, but last year was my first time serving as a topic chair,” Sullivan explained. “As a topic chair, you have your own committee and you review the applications for the papers submitted under that topic. It requires a lot of organization. You have to figure out who people want to see and what’s a hot topic, and then you try to get these people come in and speak.”
In addition to her dedication to ASAH, Sullivan has served for the past three years as the conference chair for the National Black Speech Language and Hearing Association. She also currently serves as the chapter advisor of the National Student Speech Language and Hearing Association (NSSLHA) at UWG.
Sullivan shared some unique opportunities that accompany the ASHA role. Her favorite memory is when she attended the award ceremony and her advisor received the editor’s award. She was excited to see her mentor honored for her achievements.
When it comes to students learning what it takes to be successful in this field, she advises them to get involved early in professional organizations.
“You are ASHA if you’re in the profession,” Sullivan concluded. “You have a say and a voice and can volunteer at different levels. The more you get involved in different aspects, the more you can see what the organization can do as a whole. Network and get to know people. Strike up a conversation with anyone.”