By Jordan Girola
WHAT IS CSHA? How would it impact me if I were involved in this professional organization as a student? What would this mean to me? These were the questions I deliberated three years ago when I first discovered CSHA during my undergraduate coursework at CSU, Sacramento.
The membership commitment, the dues and the application process appeared foreboding to me. I was already involved in the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association (NSSLHA). What was it about CSHA that would also appeal to me as a student? The answer to all these questions came quickly and easily as soon as I became a CSHA student member. What I know now – that I wish I knew three years ago – is the message I want to send to all students.
Involvement in speech, language and hearing organizations at a state level is the first and most rewarding aspect I got from CSHA. Having local networking opportunities as a student opened so many doors for me. This created a pathway to leadership in which I became involved as a student within CSHA at the district level.
I started attending district meetings as a student representative for District 2, and then attended board meetings where I had the pleasure of being welcomed into discussions at the executive level. Understanding that my voice matters as a student during CSHA meetings created a passion for advocacy within me. I felt comfortable being a voice for students within these meetings and I felt welcomed and heard.
My leadership journey did not stop there. I continued my work with CSHA as a graduate student by accepting the position of CSHA Northern Student Representative.
I’m fortunate to have had experiences with CSHA at the district and state levels, and am proud to be actively contributing to a robust, growing association. I am now the president of NSSLHA and I understand from both the state and national levels the importance of involvement in state associations.
The amount of professional development opportunities, advocacy, leadership growth, networking and scholarships all helped lead to my success as a student. CSHA pro- vided me with the tools and opportunities to become the compassionate, research-minded and leadership-driven student I am today.
Not only did CSHA witness my evolution and growth as a student and leader, I had the true pleasure of being a part of CSHA’s own evolution. I witnessed CSHA’s brand strategy, website, magazine and governance structure evolve and revolutionize. As CSHA continues to grow and change, its trajectory is headed in the right direction and I am happy to continue to be involved in CSHA every step of the way.
I look forward to carrying on, inspiring and encouraging other students to be leaders the way CSHA did for me. The questions I posed three years ago have come full circle as I am now entering my last year of graduate school and I cannot help but feel an overwhelming sense of community, promise and success.
Jordan Girola is former CSHA Northern Student Representative and a current member of the Board Connection Committee. She attends California State University, Chico, as a graduate student in communication sciences and disorders, and is an MS SLP candidate for the year 2021.