44th Annual Downes Symposium a Sold-Out Success

The 44th Annual Meta M. Downes Speech-Language and Hearing Symposium was not only a great opportunity for those interested in the speech, language, and hearing fields but also a successful, sold-out event.

With 247 students, professionals, and faculty registered to attend the symposium, held Oct. 17 in the East Carolina Heart Institute, a satellite location had to be added in the Health Sciences Building.

The annual event is truly a student-run event with the East Carolina University Chapter of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association (NSSLHA) taking the helm in organizing the symposium , arranging speakers, and executing the symposium.

Deborah Bengala, director of undergraduate education and clinical associate professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders serves as the advisor for NSSLHA and said she couldn’t sing the praises of her students loud enough when it comes to their leadership abilities in making the symposium a success.

“The goals of the annual symposium are to raise money for scholarships and community projects, as well as to provide current clinical and research information, to students and professionals. We are able to accomplish these goals through the collaborative work of our graduate and undergraduate students,” said Bengala.

This year’s event focused on developing evidence-based treatment for childhood articulation disorders and vocabulary and literacy development in Latino preschoolers. Those in attendance heard presentations from faculty members Dr. Lucia Mendez and Dr. Yolanda Holt, and also utilized the new information in development activities such as using the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association evidence map for speech sound disorders in children and discovering the impact of variations in classification of disorders on therapeutic approach.

During the symposium, several scholarships were awarded to students in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. Dr. Shel Downes, husband of Meta Downes and professor emeritus in the Department of Addictions and Rehabilitation Studies, presented the Meta Downes Scholarship to four students, Ivey Best, Katie Broadwell, Valentyna Hibbs, and Harris Shepherd. Michael May from the RiteCare Childhood Language Program, an organization funded through the Scottish Rite Foundation, was also present to award two scholarships to Anna Lawrence and Jillian Nyswonger.

Other awarded scholarships included the Tanya Johnson McDowell and Riley Floyd Scholarship presented to Cara Julian and Aaria McConnell, the Lina Edwards Wheeler Memorial Scholarship presented to Lisa Tallman, the James and Carol White Speech Pathology Scholarship presented to Mary Highsmith and Sara Shaw, and the Robert Muzzareli Scholarship presented to Elizabeth McGee.

The Meta M. Downes Speech-Language Hearing Symposium began in 1970 as the ECU Speech-Language Hearing Symposium, created by Associate Professor Emeritus Robert Muzzarelli and former Associate Professor Meta Downes. While it originally served as a professional development symposium designed to expand the skill set of professionals in the fields of speech and hearing, it later grew to include sessions designed for not only those who had already succeeded in the field, but also for students hoping to learn more as they furthered their education. Following the death of dedicated faculty member Meta Downes, who had been with the Department for 36 years and advised the ECU Chapter of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association, the student organization voted to re-name the event in her honor in 2010.

The event is sponsored by the East Carolina University Chapter of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association (NSSLHA) in cooperation with the ECU Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders and Eastern AHEC.

View photos from the event below:









Gregg Givens Web

Dr. Givens Elected President of National Council

Dr. Gregg Givens, professor emeritus in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders has been elected President of the National Council of State Boards of Examiners for Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology. Dr. Givens' term will be for the 2015 calendar year. Congratulations Dr. Givens!

Downes Symp

44th Annual Meta M. Downes Symposium

Don't miss the 44th Annual Speech & Hearing Symposium featuring discussions regarding assessment and treatment of bliginual children and children with articulation disorders. This conference, to be held Friday, Oct. 17 in the East Carolina Heart Institute, consistently tops itself each year with outstanding speakers to elevate the practice of Speech Language Pathology professionals. Find out more information by viewing the brochure and register online here.

Candice Manning
Manning Receives ARTA Award

Candice Manning, AuD and PhD student in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders has been awarded the Audiology/Hearing Science Research Travel Award (ARTA) by the American Speech-Language Hearing Association. As an award recipient, Manning will receive a complimentary registration and a $500 stipend to help defray some of the costs associated with attending the ASHA Convention (e.g., transportation, lodging, meals, etc.). Manning will attend several pre-convention events to learn how to maximize her attendance and insure that she gets the most of our trip to the annual convention. 

Pirate Speech Camp 'LIGHT BULB' MOMENTS' - Summer camp helps children improve communication, social skills

Children with communication delays related to autism and other disorders are learning about making friends while improving their verbal skills at East Carolina University’s Pirate Speech Camp. Read more about the Department of Communication Sciences & Disorders' Pirate Speech Camp here.

The Bremers, Dr. Walker & Dr. Thomas 'A FOUNDATIONAL SKILL' 
State superintendent delivers address on literacy at ECU summit

The changing definition of literacy and the constant evolution of teaching methods were major topics at the first-ever Interdisciplinary Literacy Summit, held May 21 at East Carolina University. Marianna Walker, dean of the ECU Honors College, and Sarah Williams, director of the Walter and Marie Williams STEPP Program, collaborated to organize the inaugural campus-wide initiative. Read more...
2014 Literacy Flyer

2014 Interdisciplinary Literacy Summit

This year's Interdisciplinary Literacy Summit, part of the Barbara Bremer Distinguished Lecture in Literacy and Language, will be held in Wright Auditorium May 21, 2014 from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m.. The keynote address, "Student Literacy: Now and in the Future" will be delivered by Dr. June Atkinson, North Carolina State Superintendent of Public Instruction. The event, co-sponsored by the Divisions of Academic Affairs and Health Sciences along with the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, is open to the general public. Click here for more information.


Lakshmi Kollara-Sunil with CDSI faculty

Student Achievement Award presented to CSDI Student

CSDI student Lakshmi Kollara-Sunil was presented with the Student Achievement Award by the North Carolina Speech-Hearing and Language Association and given a scholarship for $1,000 sponsored by LinguiSystems. The recognition is awarded on the basis of academic excellence and merit. In addition, the Linguisystems award requires the student to show evidence of research productivity and consistent service to the professions of audiology or speech-language pathology. Congratulations to Lakshmi Kollara-Sunil!


CSDI Students Awarded for Research

  • Jillian Nsywonger is a first year master's student and received the Students Preparing for Academic-Research Careers ="">·Katie Broadwell is a senior in the Dept of CSDI and she received a University Research Creativity Award. She is working with Dr. Jamie Perry. She will present her research at the Annual CSDI Research Day at the end of April. 
  • Lakshmi  Kollara Sunil is a second year doctoral student and she is co-investigator with Dr. Jamie Perry on a research grant from the Cleft Palate Foundation. 
  • Graham Schenck is a second year doctoral student working with Dr. Jamie Perry and he received the David Kuehn Speech Scholarship from the Cleft Palate Foundation. 
  • Stephen Kintz is a second year doctoral student working with Dr. Heather Harris Wright. He received an NIDCD Student travel Fellowship to present his work at the Clinical Aphasiology Conference 
SpeechEasy People with Parkinson's disease now have a tool to help them communicate more fluently. 

Janus Development Group Inc. is marketing and distributing the SpeechEasy anti-stuttering device, developed at East Carolina University, to people with the neurological disease to assist them with speech. Parkinson's disease is a progressive disease which affects men and women, but more typically men. Among the signs of Parkinson's are decreased speech volume, repetitive speech and an overall decrease in speech intelligibility. Read more of this article by ECU News Services writer Doug Boyd by clicking here.
Ning Zhou

Zhou Awarded by American Auditory Society

Assistant Professor Ning Zhou, PhD from the Department of Communications Sciences & Disorders has just received a 2014 New Investigator Award from the American Auditory Society for her submission, "Integration of electrical pulses by listeners with cochlear implants". Congratulations Dr. Zhou!


CSDI Class of 2016

Turner Awarded Dr. Helen Dittman Berine Scholarship

Tessa Turner, a master's degree student in the Department of Communication Sciences & Disorders in the distance education program has been awarded the Dr. Helen Dittman Beirne Scholarship from the Alaska Speech-Language-Hearing Association.  Tessa is in the 2nd year of the Distance Education master's degree as a part of the joint program between ECU and the University of Alaska – Anchorage. 

Dr. Helen Beirne was instrumental in starting the Alaska Speech and Hearing Association. She is remembered by a great number of individuals as a role model and mentor in the area of speech and language, and in humanitarian work. In memory of Dr. Beirne, the Alaska Speech and Hearing Association presents this award this year, to a suitably qualified candidate demonstrating a commitment to undertaking studies leading to a graduate degree in communication development and disorders. At this time, in Alaska, it is especially crucial to applaud this pursuit, since there is a shortage of qualified personnel to assist people experiencing communication problems. Applicants should show pursuit of studies in communication, in the area of speech/language or hearing at an accredited institution in the undergraduate or graduate department.


Unknown Ailment
ECU activities, research aid communication for people with aphasia

Check out the article by Crystal Baity at ECU News Services about Dr. Heather Wright and the Communication Sciences & Disorders department's work with Aphasia. View the article here.

[photo by Cliff Hollins]



The Class of 2013!

class of 2013a

ECU alumna shares Alaskan experiences

Cathy-Genaux and CSDI students 2012
ECU alumna Cathy Genaux, at far left, is shown with students who attended her presentation
about lifeas a distance ed student in Alaska.

Catherine Genaux, an ECU alumna and speech language pathologist, spoke Nov. 9 about living and working in Alaska —where clinicians fly bush planes to see patients and many communities do not have speech-language services.

Geneaux talked about life as a distance education master's student, how speech language pathology is conducted in the state of Alaska and her mission work in Mexico. She gave ECU students great insight into a way of life and a speech-language pathology practice that is very different from experiences in North Carolina, said Dr. Kathleen T. Cox, ECU associate professor and director of master's education in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders.

Geneaux participated in a unique joint program between ECU and University of Alaska – Anchorage. ECU provides online classes for students in the master's degree in communication sciences and disorders, and UAA provides their clinic. The partnership helps produce speech-language pathologists for the state of Alaska, and students graduate with a degree from ECU, the only university that offers a speech language program in that state.

The presentation was held in the Health Sciences Building in the College of Allied Health Sciences.

November 2012


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