Spotlight on the communication disorders program

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Spotlight on the Communication Disorders Program at Geneva College

Across the country you can find grad-school-hopefuls wringing their hands over GRE exams, admission requirements, future workloads and whether or not they are really prepared for master′s level work. For those aspiring to be speech language pathologists, these concerns are vitally important because a master′s degree is required for certification.

This is why the communication disorders program at Geneva College, which is one of only two Christian colleges east of the Mississippi to offer such a program, has made its primary mission to "prepare students for graduate work"-and students begin their preparation on day one. Arden Darnell ′14 says, "The first few weeks of classes are definitely an eye-opener, and after that first quiz in Introduction to Communication Disorders (CDS 190), I quickly learned that this program is no joke."

Once that groundwork has been established, students continue to be challenged throughout the program. Dr. Elaine Hockenberger, who has been teaching at Geneva since 1985, explains, "The preparation of communication disorders students starts in the first semester of their freshman year. Our Introduction to Communication Disorders course provides a broad foundation of the field. Each subsequent class provides more specific information until the students are ready to go out into the field their senior year and work under the supervision of a speech/language pathologist."

Geneva graduate, Kayla Newton ′11, is now a student at California University of Pennsylvania. She recalls her experience in Geneva′s communication disorders program: "It was very challenging and sometimes a little bit overwhelming, but so fun and rewarding at the same time."

Lisa Wright ′11, who is a graduate student at Kansas State, says, "The classes that I took at Geneva challenged me academically, organizationally and even spiritually. The assignments are practical and the professors are careful to emphasize why each subject is critical to understand in order to become a good speech-language pathologist."

It is not just a curriculum that makes a program great, either. At Geneva, the professors also contribute a great deal to the quality of education provided. Wright commented, "One of the most valuable assets of Geneva′s communication disorders program is its professors. Dr. Hockenberger and Professor Layton are truly invested in each and every one of their students. The professors set very high expectations and will do anything they can to help their students succeed; from staying after class to pray with students to inviting the entire department into their homes for a party."

Newton agrees. "Dr. Hockenberger and Mrs. Layton worked really hard to prepare me for the challenges of grad school, and they provided me with a great Christian point of view in regard to how we view and treat patients."

Challenging classes and projects combined with professors who are invested in the students is a formula for success in the communication disorders program. Kayla now sees why her professors pushed her during her undergraduate experience, "I can look back now and say thank you, thank you to both of them! I'm very well prepared for the masters program because of the high expectations of us in their program."

Geneva communication disorder graduates from all around the country feel the same way. Katelyn Falk ′11 says, "Now that I'm in graduate school at the University of Iowa, one of the top-rated programs in the country, I can say that Geneva really did prepare me well. I have really appreciated my Geneva education … I was even able to start out taking an upper-level course with second year grad students."

Wright is also appreciative of the excellent preparation she received, "I have been able to jump right into the graduate environment. Geneva′s communication disorders program provided me with a solid foundation that has enabled me to focus on becoming a better clinician and continuing my education."

And this solid foundation is built on the integration of learning and the Christian faith, enabling students to take what they learn at Geneva far beyond their graduate work and truly impact the lives of their patients. Newton explained, "The most important thing that the program gave me was a Christian perspective about patients and clients. Geneva taught me to look at the person, not the disorder, and to really try to understand how their communication problems affect their lives."

"As a product of this program, and now a professor in it," Susan Layton adds, "I′ve always believed that what we do here at Geneva is exceptional. Hearing such feedback has confirmed that we′re preparing our students not only to succeed in graduate school, but also to impact hurting people with the compassion of Christ."

- Micah Yarger ′12