Sanderson Lecture at University of the Pacific Featuring Bennet Omalu, MD

On March 1, 2017, the Department of Physical Therapy presented the Sanderson Lecture at University of the Pacific featuring keynote speaker Bennet Omalu, MD, MBA, MPH, CPE, DABP-AP, CP, FP, NP. The event was sponsored by Dignity Health – St. Joseph’s Medical Center, Pacific Arts and Lectures, the School of International Studies, College of the Pacific, Pacific Athletics, the Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and the Chan Family Endowment for Physical Therapy.

Born in 1968 in war-torn Nigeria, Dr. Omalu’s family were refugees. Despite suffering from malnutrition in his childhood, he went on to attend medical school at the age of 15 and became a physician by age 21. He first came to the United States in 1994 to complete an epidemiology fellowship at University of Washington. American football would alter the course of his career and impact his life in dramatic ways.

“I didn’t understand football,” said Dr. Omalu. “I did not know what a quarterback was.” He is credited as the first doctor to diagnose chronic brain damage in NFL athletes. In 2002, while working for the Allegheny County Coroner’s Office in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania he discovered what would later become known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in the brain of former Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman Mike “Iron Mike” Webster. The former athlete died at age 50 after years of suffering from dementia, amnesia, depression and other ailments.

According to Harvard Medical School, CTE is a neurodegenerative disease believed to result from repetitive brain trauma, including repetitive concussions or subconcussive blows to the head. At this time, a CTE diagnosis can only by confirmed by autopsy and all confirmed cases have had a history of repetitive brain trauma. While the total number of athletes affected by CTE is unknown, the Boston University CTE Center found evidence of CTE in the brain tissue 90 of 94 former NFL athletes.

When Dr. Omalu’s findings first published, they were dismissed by many of his peers and met with fierce resistance from the NFL, who attempted to have his published papers retracted. “I was called a voodoo doctor,” Omalu said. Dr. Omalu’s story was chronicled in Concussion, by Jeanne Marie Laskas, and a film by the same name starring Will Smith.

In his address at Pacific, Dr. Omalu stressed the dangers of children participating in contact sports, emphasizing that each head injury could cause irreversible brain damage. “In the past year, so many science papers have been published indicating that after one season of football, your child’s brain is permanently damaged — just after one season,” Omalu said.

According to Ann C. McKee, MD in the paper entitled “Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in Athletes: Progressive Tauopathy following Repetitive Head Injury,” athletes in a wide range of sports are at risk for developing CTE: “Repetitive closed head injury occurs in a wide variety of contact sports, including football, boxing, wrestling, rugby, hockey, lacrosse, soccer, and skiing. Furthermore, in collision sports such as football and boxing, players may experience thousands of subconcussive hits over the course of a single season.”

Dr. Omalu’s message resonated with doctor of physical therapy student (DPT) Amanda Whalen ’17. “We don’t let our children smoke or drink alcohol, but we encourage them to play a game that could cause brain damage,” Whalen said.

Fellow DPT student Vien Vu ’17, CSCS was inspired by Dr. Omalu’s perseverance in the face of adversity. Vu shares, “His story was a story of grit. No matter how many successes and setbacks he had, he did not pause for a second. It’s important for everyone to remember to keep going even if they have failed and also to keep going if they are handed an award. This is especially important in research and health care.”

The lecture was a testament to the legacy of another pioneering physician — George H. Sanderson, MD. Dr. Sanderson was the first orthopedic surgeon in Stockton and he also served as the university physician at Pacific’s Student Health Program from 1926 to 1969. He was regarded by his colleagues as an energetic and innovative participant in the growth of orthopedics. He practiced at San Joaquin General Hospital (SJGH) and St. Joseph’s Medical Center.

In 1976, Dr. Sanderson’s colleagues at the Stockton Orthopedic Medical Group, Inc. established a fund for a lecture series to honor his 50 years of service to the community. In 2012, Dr. Sanderson’s daughter, Jean Sanderson; Joseph B. Serra, MD; Christine R. Wilson, PhD, PT; and Sister Abby Newton, vice president of the St. Joseph’s Foundation, were instrumental in bringing the Sanderson Lecture to University of the Pacific.

Throughout its history, the Sanderson Lecture has brought prominent speakers to Stockton to address current health care topics and present on areas of emerging practice related to physical therapy. “The lecturers at the Sanderson Lecture bring to light the changes and advancements that are happening right now in our field,” Whalen said. “As students, we are expected to have the freshest perspective and be up to date with the new information out there. These lecturers, especially one as large as Dr. Omalu, are not available to most practicing clinicians without the Sanderson lecture.”

Echoing this sentiment, Cathy Peterson, PT, EdD, professor of physical therapy, shares, “Dr. Omalu’s talk was inspiring, educational and entertaining. He represents so much that we hope to foster in our students: courage, tenacity, conviction, integrity and compassion. As we strive to empower and equip our students to become clinicians who advocate for optimal health, wellness and performance of all members of society, Dr. Omalu’s message was a perfect fit.”

 

Alumni Spotlight: Carol Hirota ’77, ’79, MA, CCC-SLP

The San Francisco Giants, Delta Gamma and University of the Pacific — spend time with Carol Hirota ’77, ’79, MA, CCC-SLP and one is likely to hear about her passion for baseball, education or alumni engagement. When describing her Pacific experience Hirota uses an expression: “From the outside looking in, you can’t understand it; from the inside looking out, you can’t explain it.” She shares, “That is how I feel about my proud affiliation with the Pacific Speech-Language Pathology Alumni Association, the Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and University of the Pacific. It is a collegial community that exemplifies pride, history, tradition, excellence and distinction.” Hirota was named the 2016 Pacific Speech-Language Pathology Alumna of the Year. She was honored at the Alumni and Friends Breakfast at the 2017 California Speech-Language-Hearing Association (CSHA) Annual Convention & Exhibition, held in Pasadena, California in March.

She has served on several CSHA committees, including a two-year term as commissioner of association services. She has been recognized by CSHA for her outstanding achievements and service to the profession. “There is always so much to look forward to in our profession; employment options, international networking and opportunities to serve our association and University,” Hirota said.

Simalee Smith-Stubblefield ’83, MA, CCC-SLP shares, “As a colleague she is well respected, dedicated, professional, efficient, ethical and always keeps her student’s best interest at heart. She sets high standards for herself and is wonderful to work with as she is innovative in her philosophy and knows how to problem solve.” She adds, “In addition, she is a great Giants fan and loves going to AT&T Park for a game! Go Giants, go Carol!”

Several years ago, Hirota made the transition from speech-language pathologist to administrator, becoming the principal of the Stockton School for Adults. In this new role, she is a passionate advocate for her students and staff. Hirota is a well-respected and active member of several adult education organizations in California.

Hirota is also actively involved with her alma mater. She devoted eight years of service to the Pacific Speech-Language Pathology Alumni Association and is currently a member of the Pacific Alumni Association board of directors. She has held several prominent positions on University committees, including chair of the Delta Gamma Advisory Team. In her role with Delta Gamma she encourages and champions the members of Pacific’s Delta Epsilon chapter. For her tireless efforts on behalf of Delta Gamma, the University’s division of student life recognized her with the Advisor of the Year Award in 2016.

She is also an avid community volunteer, serving as a member of the Junior League of San Joaquin and the Miracle Mile Improvement District Board. Passionate about literacy, she has volunteered with several literacy organizations at both the local and state level.

Samantha M. Soto ’16, Carol Hirota ’77, ’79, MA, CCC-SLP, Tierney O’Mara ’17 and Simalee Smith-Stubblefield ’83, MA, CCC-SLP at the 2017 California Speech-Language-Hearing Association Annual Convention & Exhibition, March 16-19, 2017 in Pasadena, California.

 

Making the Most of Career Development

deans_letter_pt-showcase-2016Meeting a prospective employer for the first time can be a nerve-racking experience. There is the pressure to make a good first impression, give eloquent answers and ask thoughtful questions. One of the ways that Pacific prepares students for the career opportunities that lay ahead is through events where they can practice navigating interactions with employers.

On November 14, 2016, the University’s Career Resource Center hosted an etiquette dinner. At the event, students had the opportunity to practice networking and dining in a professional setting. The Pacific Speech-Language Pathology Alumni Association sponsored the 20 students undergraduate and graduate students who attended this annual event.

“I would definitely recommend this to future students because it has made me more comfortable dining at nice restaurants and it was a valuable experience if I go to an interview dinner,” said speech-language pathology (SLP) student Ashley Cearley ’17. Her classmate, Monica Berg ’17, agrees, “It was great to receive information about dining in a business setting and note what employers were looking for.” Berg connected with Jillian Hall ’13, MS, CCC-SLP, who is a speech-language pathologist for Twin Rivers Unified School District. “We spoke about her job experience, other colleges and the California Speech-Language-Hearing Association,” Berg said.

SLP student Connie Mach ’17 also connected with a speech-language pathologist. She shares, “She was very friendly and shared her experiences working as a speech-language pathologist in a variety of settings, including early intervention in the homes, school sites and in the hospitals.” Mach adds, “I think it was a great opportunity to practice networking skills and meet potential employers. I would recommend bringing business cards and thinking of questions to ask the employers prior to the event.”

Doctor of physical therapy (DPT) student Samantha Moore ’17 practiced her networking skills. “I appreciated the pointers that were provided that evening about how to better conduct myself,” Moore said. “I found this beneficial in how to interact with other professionals including potential employers.”

Throughout the year students have opportunities to attend events focused on career development. “We highly encourage students to start attending career events and start devising a career development plan as early as their first year in the program,” said Erica Ruiz ’12, whose role at the School includes assisting students with career development.

In November Adriana Joma ’17 attended the Speech-Language Pathology Employer Showcase. “This experience allowed me to see what positions are currently available in my area and specific job skills required or recommended for these positions,” Joma said. Both Kate O’Donnell ’17 and Kasimira Clark ’17 used Showcase as an opportunity to learn more about the corporate culture of local companies. O’Donnell explains, “The companies provided great information and advice for determining the best ‘fit’ for a career.” Clark shares, “The exhibitors gave great advice and explained what things we should look out for and helped narrow my focus.”

Sarah Petry ’18 found that the practice of meeting with employers gave her confidence. She shares, “I grew more comfortable at each table and less overwhelmed. By the last table I felt more myself and able to better make a connection.” DPT student Jacob “Jake” Fredrickson ’18 had a similar experience at the Physical Therapy Employer Showcase. He said, “I got to practice having a professional conversation in a real employer interaction and that was very helpful!”

For Briana Bernard ’17 the benefits of attending Showcase were twofold. “Clinicians gave insight to what they are looking for in therapists and what kind of [interview] questions they ask,” Bernard said. “Also, it was a good experience of putting myself out there in a professional setting and feeling more confident.”

Dickson Chang ’18 and Briana Valenzuela ’18 emphasize the power of a good first impression. Chang shares, “It helped me work on being personable to potential employers.” Valenzuela said, “I felt like practicing introducing myself to everyone and trying to create a good first impression was a great experience.”

Alicia (Lueth) Wortman ’18 found Showcase to be an encouraging experience. She shares, “It was nice to have a ‘practice’ environment in which to have purposeful, but also personal, conversations. It was encouraging to know that these employers see qualities in us which they’d like to hire.” Patrick Amigable ’18 echoes her sentiment. He said, “I was able to practice being an active listener and inquire in a way that expressed my potential as a future employee.”

 

Alumni Spotlight: Judi Jewett ’95, MA, CCC-SLP

deans_letter_judi_jewett_welcome_back_dinner“I never have to worry about what I want to do when I grow up because I’m doing it,” said Judi Jewett ’95, MA, CCC-SLP. For over two decades Jewett, president of Jewett and Associates, Inc., has worked in private practice and in schools as a speech-language pathologist. She believes, “Communication is a basic need and if you can help someone with their communication you are giving them a gift.”

She reflects on what inspired her to pursue a career in speech-language pathology (SLP). “There was a video that I absolutely fell in love with. The speech-language pathologist was teaching a hearing impaired child to speak. I thought, ‘That’s it, that’s what I want to do.’” She also found the variety of opportunities available within the profession very appealing. Jewett adds, “I have always been fascinated by all of the things you can do in SLP.”

She explains why she chose Pacific for her masters of arts in communicative disorders: “I liked the philosophy of the School.” She says that choosing Pacific was “one of the best choices I’ve made.” She adds, “I absolutely love Pacific; all of the staff, all of the faculty, all of the students. I always feel connected to Pacific even though I graduated many years ago. They have a wonderful program that I can’t recommend enough. They support each student to be the best clinician they can be.”

Jewett was a speaker at this year’s Welcome Back Dinner, an annual event where alumni and experienced speech-language pathologists serve as guest speakers for round-table discussions with current SLP students. She shares, “One thing that I like about the Welcome Back Dinner is that it takes place just before students have their first interaction with their clients.” Jewett brought with her almost 700 books which she distributed to undergraduate and graduate SLP students. The books had been donated to First Book, a non-profit social enterprise, by Random House Golden Kids. First Book receives donations of new books from publishers, which are then available to educators who work in settings where the majority of the students come from low-income families.

One of the books Jewett brought was “Monkey: Not Ready for Kindergarten” by Marc Brown. Jewett explains that in the book the monkey is doing activities such as playing with blocks and coloring. By bringing props to a speech therapy session, such as coloring books and blocks, the client can engage in the activity instead of only listening. Jewett stresses the importance of helping children form positive associations with books during the pre-literacy phase. By introducing an interactive element, the child is able to practice literacy skills, regardless of their age or skill level. Also, the speech-language pathologist can ask the child about both what the character in the book is doing and what they themselves are doing.

Jewett’s passion for sharing the gift of communication crosses linguistic and cultural boundaries. Jewett traveled to what is now Bosnia and Herzegovina shortly after the Bosnia War ended in 1995. “I first went to Bosnia as part of a church program,” Jewett said. “I went to a youth house, the schools were not up and running at this point.” She noticed that one child wasn’t engaging in the activities that were going on around her. Jewett was told, “‘She’s deaf, there’s nothing you can do.’” Jewett thought to herself, “‘I’m a speech-language pathologist, I do know there are things I can do.’” The girl could only use a few gestures, which her mother understood, but she was unable to communicate with her father who had been blinded in the war. Jewett worked tirelessly until she found hearing aids.

Finding hearing aids was only the first step. “You have to also provide therapy,” explains Jewett. “You can’t just hand them hearing aids like audiology tourism.” Jewett arranged for the girl to have speech therapy. On her return trips she observed the impact it had made on the girl’s life. She shares, “She went from gesturing to actually participating in conversations.” That initial interaction sparked the creation of the Bosnia Speech and Hearing Project. Jewett shares, “Bosnia is the place that has captured my heart. The people there are now my family. I didn’t have family when I first went, but now I do.”

She believes that it is our responsibility to reach those individuals who otherwise would not have access to the services they need. She encourages her fellow speech-language pathologists to give back of their time and talent. “There are some people outside of our settings that also need communication, that is a basic need,” Jewett said. “Find those settings where we can use our knowledge and skills.”

 

PT and SLP Collaborate for a Study on Respiratory Muscle Strength Training

deans-letter-fairburn-isettiCarl L. Fairburn III ’10, PT, DPT, assistant professor of physical therapy, and Derek Isetti ’08, PhD, CCC-SLP, assistant professor of speech-language pathology, have teamed up for a research project to explore if respiratory muscle strength training (RMST), commonly used in physical therapy, can benefit patients who are having difficulty with speaking. For this study Dr. Fairburn and Dr. Isetti are focusing on individuals with Parkinson’s disease, as often these individuals experience diminished lung capacity and decreased speaking volume.

Ultimately, the goal of this study is to improve the quality of life for individuals with Parkinson’s disease by improving their pulmonary function, which in turn could make it easier for them to speak. Vocal loudness is intricately related to the amount of air pressure an individual can generate within the lungs. It is Dr. Fairburn and Dr. Isetti’s theory that as pulmonary function and strength improves with respiratory strength training this could have a translational effect on vocal loudness when speaking.

In this study, participants are trained on how to use small, portable respiratory trainers. “These are small hand-held devices that are typically spring-loaded,” said Dr. Fairburn. “They apply a resistance to the user when they are either breathing in or breathing out. The trainers are calibrated to each individual with resistance adjusted based on the user response.” Calibration is important as these devices employ the progressive overload principle. Dr. Fairburn explains, “Placing strain on the muscle causes adaptive hypertrophy and growths in strength. The diaphragm and muscles in the rib cage can be strengthened to improve the individual aspects of pulmonary function.”

Dr. Fairburn is the lead investigator of the study. “My responsibilities are recruiting and selecting candidates, study design and selecting outcome assessments that relate to pulmonary function and quality of life in Parkinsonism,” Dr. Fairburn said. “We also measure thoracic expansion, or how much movement they get in their rib cage.” In addition, he trains the study’s participants on how to use the respiratory devices and teaches them the exercise protocol. Dr. Fairburn also assesses “how much their respiratory function affects their quality of life.”

Co-investigator Dr. Isetti lends his expertise as a speech-language pathologist. “I’m essentially obtaining baseline measurement data on the participants,” Dr. Isetti said. Once he has established a baseline of the participant’s vocals he then follows up at two week intervals with a vocal assessment. “Some of the things we are looking at are maximum phonation time, or the length of time someone can sustain a sound, and vocal loudness, how loudly someone can project their voice.” In addition, he measures pitch range. He also assesses their perceived vocal handicap before and after the respiratory strength training, as well as the amount of self-perceived effort that a participant feels is necessary in order to produce speech.

Dr. Isetti emphasizes the importance of seeking out the expertise of a speech-language pathologist. “RMST is not designed to be a replacement for speech therapy,” stresses Dr. Isetti. “However, if use of respiratory trainers is shown to improve vocal outcomes they could be a valuable ancillary treatment, complementing the patient’s speech therapy.”

Several doctor of physical therapy students are involved in this research study: Alycia Clark ’17, Andy Westhafer ’17 and Amanda Whalen ’17. “Their responsibilities include assistance with data collection and helping perform some of the outcome assessments,” Dr. Fairburn said. This study is just one way that students have the opportunity to work alongside Pacific faculty. Dr. Fairburn shares, “A large number of our students are involved in research projects or state and national-level presentations. Opportunities outside of the classroom are available to all of our students should they express their desire to pursue research activities.”

Pacific is committed to creating an environment where interdisciplinary collaboration thrives. Speaking from personal experience, Dr. Fairburn has found that when physical therapists work with speech-language pathologists they can become a “cohesive, collaborative rehabilitation team.” Dr. Isetti adds that when students are exposed to rehabilitation research that is being developed outside of their own discipline they are better prepared to meet the needs of their patients in strategic and innovative ways.

 

Speech-Language Pathology Graduates’ Future Plans

Equipped with a master of science in speech-language pathology our graduates are pursuing careers all across the United States. As Commencement approaches we asked them to take a moment and reflect on their time at Pacific and their path ahead.

 

Kimberly Kamada ’15 is currently working as a clinical fellow in speech pathology at Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, California. “I was placed at Eisenhower Medical Center for my medical student externship through Pacific,” shares Kamada. “After my externship was over, I was offered a job at the hospital. I’m looking forward to learning more about my profession and role as a speech therapist in a hospital setting. I look forward to impacting lives of patients and their family members, as well as being impacted by them.”

Professor who had a profound impact: “One clinical supervisor that stood out to me was Mimi Tran [’04, ’05]. Mimi supervised me at the adult clinic and after each session she gave me great feedback. She was always available for questions and encouraging with advice for sessions.”

Professional goals: “I want to give my patients the best care I can and make a lasting difference in their lives.”

Favorite Pacific memory: “All of the clients at the adult clinic came together for a social during the last session to celebrate the end of clinic. Patients with various communication disorders were able to gather and carry over their communication skills to real life situations. I had a patient with severe expressive and receptive aphasia at the time and being able to see her enjoy herself in a social situation where communication is important was amazing.”

 

Brooke Richardson ’15 is currently working as a speech-language pathologist at Manteca Unified School District and Beyond Words Intervention Services in Stockton.

Professor who had a profound impact: “Many different professors have been encouraging in my endeavors to pursue this career.”

Professional goals: “I hope to further the field of speech-language pathology by contributing further research in communication disorders as well as providing education and awareness about communication disorders.”

Favorite Pacific memory: “Every year at the department Christmas party our professors would dress up and perform for the students. Definitely a highlight of the Christmas season for me!”

 

Meet Our Graduates

It is the season of tassels and mortarboards. Representing the disciplines of pharmacy, speech-language pathology and physical therapy almost 300 graduates will have their degrees conferred at the Commencement Ceremony on May 21, 2016. A few of our graduates share their plans after graduation and what memories will stand out to them when they look back at their time at Pacific.

 

Renée C. Fini ’15, DPT accepted a position as a physical therapist at Fritter, Schulz & Zollinger Physical and Occupational Therapy, a private outpatient clinic in Gilroy, California. “I am excited to be able to enhance my manual skills with the orthopedic population along with the ability to fine tune my aquatic therapy skills,” said Fini. “I was lucky enough to be chosen [for an internship at this clinic] and I had a great connection with the clinic director during my rotation. I applied for a position that opened up recently and was hired to join the team.”

Professor who had a profound impact: “Hands down, Dr. Jim Mansoor! Dr. Mansoor really took me under his wing and advised me in a way that I really understood; a ‘tell it like it is,’ down-to-earth approach. I will always be grateful for his time and effort given during office hours to help me understand concepts that I struggled with.”

Professional goals: “I don’t want to just ‘help people,’ but I would rather ‘help change peoples lives.’ I look forward to someday working with individuals who struggle with movement on an everyday basis due to disease or pathology. I would also like to travel to underserved countries and contribute my services for those who cannot afford care.”

Favorite Pacific memory: “I cherish all of the great friends I made in the DPT program at Pacific. The bond we shared is unlike any other college experience I have had before. We understood the challenges of being in an accelerated program and encouraged each other to keep pushing forward to do our best. I will always remember the challenges, but will remember the friendships even more.”

 

Andrew Bagdasarian ’15, DPT is currently working as a physical therapist at Golden Bear Physical Therapy and Sports Injury Center in Modesto, California. “I am looking forward to broadening my knowledge base by treating a variety of patient populations [and] improving my treatment approach of an athletic population, ranging from high school to professional athletes,” shares Bagdasarian. The connections he made through Pacific were instrumental in leading to this opportunity. He explains, “Not only did I complete a clinical experience through Golden Bear while at Pacific, I also had chances to meet the clinic owners, Bobby [Ismail ’94] and Brandon [Nan ’09], when they participated in the Physical Therapy Employer Showcase and 5K Tiger Dash our program puts on.”

Professor who had a profound impact: “Many professors impacted me in multiple ways throughout my education at Pacific. It would not do them justice to single one out above the rest as I appreciate all of their respective efforts.”

Professional goals: “Hopefully I contribute [to the profession as] a thoughtful, well-rounded clinician who is always searching to better himself and his treatment approach. Specifically, I would like to expand on evidence-based return-to-sport testing to improve decision making about appropriateness and safety of athletes returning to their respective sports.”

Favorite Pacific memory: “One of the highlights was traveling to Indianapolis to attend the Combined Sections Meeting, our national physical therapy conference; getting to spend time learning from the presentations and exploring the city with a great group of classmates. Also, a memory I’ll never forget was being able to complete a clinical rotation with the San Francisco Giants, the baseball team I’ve grown up being a fan of since I was young.”

Read more about how our graduates plan on using their doctor of physical therapy degree > 

 

Tiffany A. Riley ’16 has been matched with a Postgraduate Year One (PGY1) pharmacy practice residency at VA Palo Alto Health Care System in Palo Alto, California. “I’m deeply humbled with the opportunity to serve our nation’s veterans,” shares Riley. “Growing up, both of my grandfathers were veterans and I remember being in awe of their stories of bravery and sacrifice. I look forward to serving this unique and truly inspiring patient population.” She adds, “I had the first-hand experience of rotating through various institutions in the Palo Alto region, such as the VA and Stanford. Being in this clinical world among highly skilled practitioners opened my eyes to the possibilities of what I could do after graduation.”

Professor who had a profound impact: “My journey at Pacific began as a pre-pharmacy student and my advisor, Dr. James Uchizono, became a mentor over the years. As I advanced to pharmacy school, Dr. Uchizono, alongside Kimberly Eayrs and Kim Whitesides, were always welcoming to share advice and encouragement. I know that as I progress on in my career as a clinical pharmacist I will still be in contact with them. The professors at Pacific are more than just teachers, they are life-long mentors who truly value their students’ professional and personal development.”Professional goals: “With a genuine passion for helping those in need, I hope to provide more than just medication related recommendations for my patients. I intend to inspire future generations of pharmacists by precepting pharmacy students, form relationships with a variety of providers by contributing to an interdisciplinary team and stretch the boundaries of the profession in this exciting era of pharmacy practice.”

Favorite Pacific memory: “I’m eternally grateful to have had the opportunity to be a member of the California Pharmacy Student Leadership (CAPSLEAD) team. Upon initiation of our team’s research project, we attended the annual CAPSLEAD conference. Attending this conference and working with the CAPSLEAD advisors, Dr. Don Floriddia [’71], Dr. Denis Meerdink and Dr. Veronica Bandy [’00, ’08], throughout the course of the year sparked in me a deeper interest in leadership development.”

 

Hasna Manghi ’16 has been matched with a Postgraduate Year One (PGY1) residency in academia through Touro University and NorthBay Healthcare in Fairfield, California. “I am looking forward to letting the knowledge I’ve gained thus far come full circle,” shares Manghi.

Professor who had a profound impact: “Dr. Rajul Patel [’01, ’06] has made such an immense impact on my life. The span of his influence encompasses my didactic work, my motivation during APPE rotations and my ambitions as a future pharmacist, as well as the qualities of integrity, positive attitude and a true work ethic.”

Professional goals: “I hope to contribute a positive attitude. I want to take the apathy out of pharmacy practice and encourage a zealous mindset for this profession.”

Favorite Pacific memory: “I have many great memories at Pacific, but the best was of the time spent with Drs. Nancy [’89] and Gary [’89] DeGuire in their cabin in the woods with my close group of friends. It was truly an unforgettable weekend!”

Read more about how our graduates plan on using their doctor of pharmacy degree >

 

Karen Soltow ’15 is currently a clinical fellow at Shoreline Speech and Language Center, a private speech-language pathology clinic in Hermosa Beach, California. “The clinic I am working at had heard great things about the graduates of University of the Pacific, so they emailed our department to advertise their job opening,” shares Soltow. “I emailed them right away and I am so happy I did!”

Professor who had a profound impact: “Dr. Derek Isetti [’08] has been a prominent support system for me as I transitioned from my post-baccalaureate studies into my masters program. I first met Dr. Isetti while studying at University of Washington and had the privilege to continue learning from him here at University of the Pacific. His office door was always open and he always greeted everyone with a smile. It was clear that he was passionate about our field and eager to support all of those in it.”

Professional goals: “My goal is to foster a community where therapists are continually collaborating and sharing ideas in order to meet the needs of all of our clients. I hope to never lose sight of the fact that I will forever be a student in this field as there is always more to learn!”

Favorite Pacific memory: “To me, University of the Pacific was all about the people. My cohort and professors were always there for me. Whether we were meeting to collaborate on our studies or clinical work, or to enjoy some good food or sunshine, we were always there to support each other. I will never forget the people I met while at Pacific.”

 

Yvette Young ’15 is currently working as a speech-language pathologist at Manteca Unified School District and Beyond Words Intervention Services in Stockton. She welcomes the variety of patients she has the opportunity to work with. “I’m looking forward to helping people in all stages of life communicate,” said Young. She adds, “Both of my positions were obtained due to professional connections made during my time at University of the Pacific.”

Professor who had a profound impact: “Professor Simalee Smith-Stubblefield [’83] supported me from freshman year all the way through graduate school. She always makes it clear to her students how much she cares and that they can come to her for guidance and encouragement. My supervisors on my medical externship at UC Davis Medical Center also changed my clinical and life perspective in such meaningful ways. I’m thankful for Simalee and other Pacific speech-language pathology department staff who worked diligently to place students in wonderful medical externships.”

Favorite Pacific memory: “When I reflect on my time at University of the Pacific I’m flooded with memories of people who encouraged me. All of my professors created an environment in which students could grow into informed, caring, flexible and supported speech-language pathologists.”

Read more about how our graduates plan on using their master of science in speech-language pathology degree >

 

 

Student Spotlight: Jennifer Elaine-Connsalvi Hodges ’16

jennifer_hodges_resizeIt was a bomb blast on the other side of the world that inspired Jennifer Elaine-Connsalvi Hodges ’16 to become a speech-language pathologist. Before coming to Pacific Hodges earned a bachelor of arts in child and adolescent development from San Francisco State University in 2008 and worked at the Ronald McDonald House. “While working at the Ronald McDonald House in San Francisco I met a 1 year old child from Baghdad who had become deaf due to a bomb exploding near his home,” said Hodges. “A non-profit called No More Victims flew him and his father to the United States and sponsored a cochlear implant for him.”

Hodges continues, “They stayed at the Ronald McDonald House for a year and a half. I witnessed the SLP working with him day in and day out after the implant. I’ve been blessed in my life to see a variety of beautiful things across the globe, but this experience far exceeds all else. Here was an innocent child of war who lost the ability to hear because of an American bomb drop. I was watching him sit in San Francisco with an American SLP who was completely volunteering her time to help in his rehabilitation. His mother and younger brother were stuck in Jordan for two years due to visa issues. I took the father and son to the airport to pick up their wife and mother two years later after the rehab and cochlear implant. I watched the reunification of a family that had fallen victim to the worst parts of humanity. He was able to speak and hear his mother. The tears just wouldn’t stop from all parties. That experience planted a seed that I just couldn’t shake; I wanted to help people take their God-given right to communicate.”

Hodges revealed her academic challenges when she started college at Rancho Santiago Community College, “I started from the beginning at the local junior college with really low math and English courses and retaught myself basic concepts. I struggled and changed my major a couple times, but I began to learn how I learn and the lights went on.” She found that the key to her academic success was understanding her personal learning style and creating a strategy for studying. She explains, “I needed silence to study, good lighting, repetition, visual, tactile and audio for information input. That took discipline, time, effort and sacrifice. Once I started seeing the results of my efforts I realized it wasn’t that I wasn’t smart, it was that I didn’t prioritize my learning nor did I understand how I learned.”

Being accepted to Pacific’s speech-language pathology (SLP) program was a decisive turning point. She shares, “Earning my way into University of the Pacific was one of the biggest and scariest accomplishments of my life. Little did I know it was just the medicine I needed. […] I felt like an equally contributing member of group work. I also had intriguing conversations with my incredible professors who always took the time to explain a topic or question me further to challenge my understanding. I came out of my Pacific coursework more confident than ever. Whatever obstacles come my way in the future I know not only will my creativity and social skills carry me, but I can also rely on my intellect that Pacific helped me realize.”

Hodges is the recipient of the Janet Nimtz Endowed Scholarship, which is awarded to an individual who plans to complete a medical internship. Pursuing her career goals required a significant financial investment. “This scholarship made a significant difference in my attitude about my debt,” said Hodges. Her plans after graduation are to pursue a career in rehabilitation. By making what she has invested in her education mentally easier to handle, it is easier for her to focus on working toward her goals of helping clients regain their communication skills.

Balancing life and the rigors of graduate school is challenging, but Hodges is undeterred and continues to pursue to her passions. In addition to working weekends at a restaurant in San Francisco, she is the president of a non-profit organization called Le Donne d’Italia. She founded Le Donne d’Italia in the North Beach district of San Francisco to promote and preserve Italian culture and Italian female heritage.

When asked if she would recommend SLP as a career Hodges exclaimed, “Do it!  Not only will you always have a job that makes you feel like you’re contributing to the world, but you’ll also never get bored. I have yet to find another career that is so versatile.”

 

Baseball Brings the SLP Community Together

The crack of the bat, the roar of the crowd, the announcer calling “strike three!” It was the atmosphere at a baseball game that inspired Benjamin Reece ’01, ’08 assistant clinical professor of speech-language pathology, to create Better Speech and Hearing Night at the Ballpark.

Professor Reece approached the Stockton Ports Minor League Baseball team with his idea and was met with an enthusiastic response. The first year he started with 100 tickets, planning for each speech therapy client to bring one caregiver. As the date of the event drew closer, Professor Reece began to get discouraged by the apparent lack of interest. After a discussion with his colleagues he realized that each client’s support system extends far beyond one guardian. When he opened up the event to include the client’s whole support system the tickets sold out in two weeks. They increased the number of tickets to 600, which astounded the Port’s management. “That had never been done before on an inaugural event,” explains Professor Reece.

“My first goal is to increase awareness of speech and hearing disorders,” said Professor Reece. “My second goal is to recognize the work that goes into overcoming a communication disorder.” He emphasized that in addition to the exhaustive efforts by the client throughout the speech therapy process, their success is possible as a result of a network of support.  In addition to the speech-language pathologist, “the caregivers who take them to therapy, the siblings who are affected by the communication disorder and the extended family.”

At that first event, a client who was profoundly deaf and had a cochlear implant assisted the announcers in the radio booth. Professor Reece explains that when an individual receives a cochlear implant early on they do not hear the whole range of sounds; it is a process and the device is tuned over a period of time. He shares that only a week before the game, the client had been mapped for the “s” sound, a critical sound when announcing “strike one, strike two!”

Hosted by California Speech-Language-Hearing Association, Better Speech and Hearing Night at the Ballpark has now spread beyond Stockton. The Modesto Nuts, Sacramento River Cats, Oakland A’s, Lake Elsinore Storm and Inland Empire 66ers have all held similar events. Past events have included individuals from the speech-language pathology community singing or signing the National Anthem, throwing the first pitch, announcing the lineup and leading the crowd in singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the seventh-inning stretch.

Professor Reece shares that it is hard to describe the experience when a speech-language pathologist has the opportunity to sit at a baseball game with a client and their family, whom they may have worked with for several years. It gives them the chance to interact in a different context. One factor that motivated Professor Reece to organize this event was working with children with autism. He identified a need for an event where families would feel that their child was accepted and where there would be no judgment if they needed to leave early because the child felt overwhelmed.

Professor Reece is amazed by the positive response from the community, which often takes shape in unexpected ways. He shared a story from one baseball season at a Port’s game, one of the mothers brought her son who has autism to a concession stand. The cashier wasn’t given special training in preparation for the event, but was aware that it was Better Speech and Hearing Night at the Ballpark. She took the mother’s order and then asked the child directly what he wanted to order. At first he shied away, but the cashier was very patient and eventually he communicated to her what he wanted. The mother was touched and she shared that this was the first time that her son had ordered for himself.

“We can take out passions and create community event around these passions. Baseball isn’t the point,” emphasizes Professor Reece. “Take what you are passionate about outside of work and use it to bring awareness.”

 

Student Spotlight: Benjamin Thompson ’18

slp-student-spotlight-benjamin-thompson2_resizeMusical festivals set Benjamin Thompson ’18 on the path to a career in audiology. “I began to wear earplugs at music festivals after a close friend recommended I consider protecting my hearing,” said Thompson. “Soon after I began personal research into the effects of noise on our auditory pathway. Audiology resonated with me because I enjoy working with people to improve their communication.”

For Thompson, music and audiology go hand-in-hand. He shares, “I would like to become more involved in hearing loss prevention campaigns for musicians and music lovers.” He adds, “Many of my friends are musicians, music lovers or work in the music industry and experience tinnitus. […] Hearing loss provides unique challenges to every individual.”

Thompson grew up in Newport, Rhode Island. He earned a bachelor of arts in communication and health from College of Charleston in Charleston, South Carolina. While living in Charleston he collaborated with local audiologists to conduct a research study about ear plug usage and concert attendance among college students.

Results of the study showed a lack of knowledge about noise-induced hearing loss and served as his motivation to design a community education event. “Of respondents, 70 percent have experienced tinnitus after attending a concert and 90 percent have never used ear plugs,” Thompson explains. “Short-term tinnitus, ringing in the ears, may be a precursor to hearing loss. With the results, I organized a hybrid education and entertainment event called ‘Decibel: Hearing Conservation Seminar’ with a presentation by a local audiologist.”

Pacific’s doctor of audiology (AuD) program brought Thompson to California. “I chose to be a part of Pacific’s inaugural class because of the need for audiologists in California,” shares Thompson. “Pacific’s AuD program in the second year consists of classes three days a week and clinical experience two days a week. I enjoy this balance of theory and practice because it allows students to exercise our knowledge immediately. Our program introduces students to Pacific’s Hearing and Balance Center in downtown San Francisco from the beginning of the program. We are one of the select accelerated AuD programs in the country. The fast-paced nature of the program is challenging. It requires sharp mental focus and diligence.”

Thompson loves being outdoors either camping, hiking or surfing. His ideal weekend would be exploring California’s untamed coastline, either in Big Sur or the Lost Coast. He  found a way to combine his love for outdoor adventures with his passion for audiology. “This August I organized a fundraiser titled, ‘Hiking for Hearing: California to Guatemala.’ I hiked the 210-mile John Muir Trail from Yosemite Valley to Mount Whitney. The trip raised money for an audiology mission trip to Guatemala this fall that two Pacific classmates and I plan to attend.”

Thompson encourages those who are interested in pursuing a career in audiology to learn more about the different specialties within the profession. He adds, “Pacific’s AuD program accepts students from a diverse background of undergraduate studies.” To learn more about Pacific’s audiology program go to pacific.edu/aud

 

Student Spotlight: Avenlea Gamble ’16, ’17

avenlea_gamble_resizeRedwood trees evoke different memories for different people, from Stanford University’s logo to summer camping trips in Sequoia National Park. For Avenlea Gamble ’16, ’17 redwoods remind her of home. Gamble is from Willits, California, the small city located in Mendocino County, 35 miles east of Fort Bragg, known as the “Gateway to the Redwoods.” The first time she stepped on the Pacific campus she felt at home.

In May, Gamble completed her bachelor of science in speech-language pathology (SLP) at Pacific and is now starting the graduate program. “I knew I always wanted to go into some kind of therapy,” said Gamble. “In high school I was torn between occupational therapy and speech-language pathology.” The opportunity to shadow a speech-language pathologist helped her decide which career path to follow.

Her advice for those starting the SLP program, either as an undergraduate or graduate student, is to connect with the faculty. “Definitely talk to your faculty inside and outside of class. They are such great resources and are very well known in the field.” She expressed that she aspires to follow in their footsteps. She adds, “This is an incredible community of very intelligent and very passionate individuals, I’m so glad to be a part of it.” She adds, “Being a Pacific Tiger has given me a life-long community of friends and colleagues.” The positive experience she has had as a Pacific Tiger has even changed the way she thinks about the color orange.

Gamble was selected by the SLP faculty to be the recipient of the Virginia Puich Endowed Scholarship, which recognizes clinical and academic excellence. Emerita faculty member Virginia Puich, MS served as department chair from 1987 until her retirement in 1993. Her focus on clinical training helped shape the SLP program at Pacific into what is today.  “She was a big catalyst for where we are now,” says Gamble. She is honored to have been chosen as the recipient of this scholarship. “To think they saw even a fraction of her in me. It is incredible to know they view me in the same light.” She adds, “Having the support from all different areas of my life is one of the reasons I am here today.”

Gamble is a member of Omega Eta Epsilon, a Greek-letter honor society unique to Pacific. “We focus on increasing literacy,” explains Gamble. Founded in 2011, Omega Eta Epsilon is open to students who are majoring or minoring in any language, as well as those studying SLP. “We are a very eclectic group; English majors, speech-language pathology majors and others who have a passion for linguistics.” Illiteracy can have a profound impact on an individual both socially and professionally. She sees an urgent need for literacy programs in the San Joaquin County; she believes that Pacific students help meet that need by hosting outreach events and organizing book drives.

Gamble believes in the concept of paying it forward. Upon graduating she plans to return to her hometown where there is a shortage of speech-language pathologists. “I would like to work in the medical setting, either a hospital or skilled nursing facility.” Her passion is for helping those with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease regain language skills. She elaborates, “To speak, to introduce themselves, to have those normal day-to-day conversations.”

 

Learning Goes Beyond Tutoring at the Language-Literacy Center

llc_group_photoJeannene M. Ward-Lonergan, PhD, professor of speech-language pathology and Jill K. Duthie, PhD, CCC-SLP, associate professor of speech-language pathology, identified a need for literacy services in the community surrounding Pacific. They also observed that the scope of practice for speech-language pathologists has expanded beyond speaking and listening to include reading and writing. In response they established the Language-Literacy Center (LLC), made possible through a Strategic Educational Excellence Development grant from the University’s Strategic Investment Fund.

The LLC offers assessment and treatment sessions to students in grades 1-12, free of charge. “We really feel that there is a need to provide literacy services for students with language disorders in our area,” said Dr. Ward-Lonergan. “We provide services free of charge to meet the needs in the community.” Speech-language pathology (SLP) graduate students met the LLC’s first group of clients in September 2015.

Alina Crom ’17 emphasizes that the services the LLC offers are fundamentally different than tutoring, which focuses on passing a certain test or class. In contrast, at the LLC, clients are taught learning strategies. These lifelong skills can be applied to a wide variety of areas in the classroom and beyond. Dr. Ward-Lonergan explains that students are taught “a set of steps they follow, that they can use wherever they go, not to just get through one assignment.”

In addition to representing a wide range of skill levels, the clients are culturally and linguistically diverse. “The children are at a variety of levels in their need for intervention,” said Dr. Duthie. “Some children are working on very beginning reading skills, some haven’t yet learned how to decode simple words. Others are reading, but not at their grade level.” What the clients have in common is that they have a mild to moderate language disorder. Dr. Ward-Lonergan explains, “They have a significant difficulty comprehending and/or producing language.” Crom found that many of the clients have what she describes as “splinter skills.” She elaborates, “[They were] really strong in one area, such as reading, but would have trouble in other areas.”

The LLC gives SLP students the opportunity to apply, in a clinical setting, the concepts they are learning in their courses. Dr. Ward-Lonergan elaborates, “Students have an opportunity to engage in evidence-based practice with these clients.” She explains that the SLP profession has expanded to increasingly include written language. As the profession evolves, the ways in which graduate students are trained has been updated to reflect the changes, ensuring that graduates are prepared for the demands of the profession when they enter the field. Pacific’s SLP students gain clinical experience at the Scottish Rite Childhood Language Disorders Center, which focuses on speaking and listening. In contrast, the LLC focuses on “how to assess and treat written language disorders,” shares Dr. Ward-Lonergan.

Through the LLC, students are given an immersive clinical experience. Christi Shaver ’17 explains that the students are responsible for planning their therapy sessions. Dr. Ward-Lonergan and Dr. Duthie are available to offer guidance, but the students are responsible for deciding how they are going to address the topic, how to tailor it to the client and how to make it engaging. One way the students make therapy fun for the client is to create themed lessons around their interests, such as bugs or superheroes.

The SLP students agreed that working with this age group requires flexibility, creativity and patience. Caitlin Elam ’17 shared that she had a client with behavioral issues. “I had to get a token system going to keep him on track,” explained Elam. Shaver emphasizes the importance of starting speech therapy at a young age. “This is such a formative time in their lives,” said Shaver. “If they can get this extra help early on it can make a huge impact on the rest of their educational career.”

Dr. Ward-Lonergan and Dr. Duthie see the benefits for both the graduate students and the community. Dr. Duthie shares, “We hope to obtain funding to continue to provide these services beyond our two year grant.” Shaver found working with clients at the LLC to be an eye-opening experience. She shares, “Reading as it connects to writing, as it connects to the overall language system, is more complex than I could have ever imagined.” Everyone involved was overwhelmed by the positive outcome of their experience with the LLC. “Every single one of our kids improved greatly,” said Alex Fernandez ’17. Dr. Ward-Lonergan adds, “Their parents are very excited about the progress they are making.”

Do you know an individual in grades 1-12 who would benefit from these services? Learn more about the LLC and download a referral .