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The Synapse...making connections with CDS alumni and friends  

Fall 2006

Plattsburgh's Presence at the NY State Speech Language Hearing Association Conference, 2006: A Story in Pictures

Students Jennifer Smith and Debbie Frederick show off the CDS Recruitment Booth.

Jamie Harrison and Katelyn Brunell prepare to present their research.

Having fun in the Convention Center: Communication Disorders and Sciences graduate students Erin Cleary and Erica Cook.

Grads and undergrads talk with Dr. Wacker-Mundy (Kate Foster, Pam Ryan, Jennifer Smith, and Debbie Frederick).

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Spring Conference: John Trombley Presents

On June 9, the Communication Disorders and Sciences Department hosted John Trombley, CCC-SLP, who presented a workshop on "Writing and Oral Language: Strategies for Teaching Expository Writing Structures and Pragmatic Language Skills." John presented tools, such as sentence and paragraph frameworks, for improving the narrative language of elementary and middle school students. He had wonderful video examples of his students using oral and written narrative language in practical contexts.

The workshop participants learned how to remediate basic expository text structures, to improve attribute vocabulary, and to enhance spelling, proofreading, and writing mechanics. The participants' feedback on John's workshop was excellent.

John has been a school-based SLP for 15 years. He just moved from the Kingston School District to the Greenwich School District. John and his wife, Keturah, live in Cambridge, NY.

- S. Hungerford, Ph.D.

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Awards Galore for Communication Disorders and Sciences Students

Amanda Mylott

Jennifer Champagne and her mother

Anthony Lewis

Pamela Ryan and her family

We are so proud of our CDS students. Three Communication Disorders and Sciences students were honored at the 7th Annual Education, Health, and Human Services Awards and Honors Ceremony on May 12th at Plattsburgh State. Tony Lewis, CDS undergraduate (soon to be graduate student), was awarded the "Outstanding Undergraduate Student Award" in CDS. At the same time, he was also awarded "Student Honors" from the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association (NSSLHA) for his tireless work as President of the Plattsburgh State NSSLHA Chapter and for his organizational efforts in the community Cure Autism Now walk which raised over $22,000 this year.

At the same ceremony, Amanda Mylott was awarded the Communication Disorders and Sciences "Outstanding Leadership Award" for the example she set as a caring, committed, and studious graduate student in Communication Disorders.

Pam Ryan, CDS graduate student, received the "Outstanding Achievement Award" at the ceremony. This award was given to Pam to recognize her dedication to the field, her success in all aspects of the graduate program, and high scholastic achievement.

Another award was presented during the 2006 CDS graduation dinner for Masters' students and their families. Jennifer Champagne earned the "Peer Recognition Award" for her enthusiasm, encouraging spirit, and stellar academic record.

Awards were presented by Dr. Patrick Coppens, Chair of the Communication Disorders and Sciences Department. The Department congratulates these students, and all of our 2006 graduates.

- Suzanne Hungerford, Ph.D.

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Traveling SLPs: Chris and Challis Crema

Chris and Challis Crema in
the Olympia Mountains.

"I couldn't have asked for
a better experience."
-Challis Crema

One of the many job options available to Speech-Language Pathologists is "traveling SLP." Alumni Chris and Challis Crema chose such an adventure. Challis graduated from Plattsburgh State in 2001, and Chris in 2003.

Recently, their traveling jobs have taken them from the Pacific Northwest to San Jose, California. "Chris and I are just enjoying traveling together and seeing this great country," said Challis. "I couldn't have asked for a better experience.I have been able to meet so many great people, see different philosophies, see what works, see what doesn't work, and attend conferences from professionals all over the country."

Chris said, "We initially decided [to become traveling SLPs] for the great financial benefits (e.g., free housing, and great wages) to help with the student loan debt. As we learned more about it, we discovered the other great opportunities (e.g., great clinical experience, see the country, meet great people)."

"We've been placed around Washington State for about 9 months," Chris said. "Challis has been in a school, I've been placed in various settings for 2-3 month placements (skilled nursing facilities, home health). The Pacific Northwest has many great opportunities."

About their recent move, Chris said, "I'll be working in a hospital/trauma center, Challis is working with children. It'll be a short placement, about 7 weeks, so we'll move on after that. I'm excited/nervous about the trauma center. It will be a great learning experience."

When asked about the advantages and disadvantages of being a traveling SLP, Chris reported:

"Advantages are:

  1. ability to work in many different settings for several months,
  2. working with experienced clinicians and learning different therapy styles,
  3. they pay for housing and in many different cases, they'll pay a cell phone allowance, finance a car, pay travel expenses,
  4. finally, my favorite advantage (and I think Challis' too) meeting great people.

Anecdote: My first day at my first placement I met other travelers (husband, wife, and friend) that were all from New England. We became great friends over the next 6 months. They've all gone on the other parts of the country, but we've remained very close. A disadvantage is that they often don't find placements until 4-6 weeks from your start date. So, it has made us a little anxious at times. It helps to be at least a little spontaneous. Another disadvantage can be obtaining state licensure. It can be tricky getting a license with such short notice."

Chris went on to say that employers "have many different opportunities [for traveling SLPs] in basically all settings .From Hawaii, to Alaska to Maine. They even have international opportunities; however, you usually need to commit for a year."

Chris reported that there are certain challenges to a couple looking for traveling jobs in the same area at the same time. "So far, it has been tough at times finding placements. A good example is Challis being in a school for 9 months and the recruiter needing to find me another placement. So far, so good, though."

The job opportunities in speech-language pathology are expected to keep growing through at least 2012 ( If you're feeling adventurous, you can join Challis and Chris in the army of traveling SLPs.

- S. Hungerford

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The Wonderful, Indomitable, Indefatigable, Mrs. Sypek!

Kudos and many "thanks" to
Mrs. Arlene Sypek on her 10th
Anniversary in Communication
Disorders and Sciences!

Mrs. Sypek started working at SUNY Plattsburgh in November 1985. The CDS department was lucky to recruit Mrs. Sypek in July 1996 while she was the Dean's secretary. She has been our master organizer, the glue that holds everything together, ever since.

The transition to the CDS department was both a pleasure and a challenge for Mrs. Sypek. She very much enjoyed the daily contacts with the clients and the students, but also had to learn how to deal with insurance companies. Since then, the job hasn't changed much except that more things have become computerized. The biggest change involved the physical aspect of the department and the clinic - for the better!

Mrs. Sypek stated that she particularly enjoys when alums drop by, or send a message, just to say hello and tell her about their job and their family. So, do not hesitate to contact her to say hi!

The most challenging aspect of her work, according to Mrs. Sypek, is to "keep things running smooth." She likes being organized and the first couple of weeks of clinic are the most hectic. From the outside, everything looks smooth and organized to us!

On a personal note, Mrs. Sypek enjoys traveling with family and friends, particularly on Caribbean cruises. A couple of times a year, Mrs. Sypek and her husband Rich travel to New York City for a Broadway show. Most recently they saw the Christmas show of the Radio City Rockettes. Mrs. Sypek also enjoys hiking and camping, weather permitting! When in town, Mrs. Sypek spends as much time as possible with her two granddaughters: Holly and Isabella.

Mrs. Sypek has projects for after she retires (some- thing none of us want to hear!) She and her husband will become snowbirds, and plan to travel to more exotic locations, such as Hawaii and Europe.

I know I speak for everybody when I say that we all appreciate Mrs. Sypek's competence, hard work, and good humor. She is truly the glue that binds the department together. So, don't hesitate to call her and thank her for all the help she provided you; in turn, I know she will enjoy hearing from you.

- Patrick Coppens, Ph.D.

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Improving Communication for Life

Each semester graduate and senior level students in the Department of Communication Disorders and Sciences serve the North Country community in the SUNY Plattsburgh Speech and Hearing Center. The Center is designed to achieve the mission of the CDS Department by providing quality clinical services to the community and clinical instruction to students training to be speech-language pathologists or audiologists.

Clients at the Speech and Hearing Center are evaluated and treated for difficulties impacting effective communication. Audiology services, including evaluation of hearing loss and hearing aid candidacy, evaluation of auditory processing disorders, and performing hearing aid fittings, are provided to nearly 200 persons each semester, with some summer services available. Evaluations for children or adults with speech, language, voice, or fluency disorders as well as those with language-learning disabilities or the need for an alternative or augmentative communication device, are provided to approximately 30 individuals and their families each semester. Additionally, our clinic rooms are filled each week with approximately 50 individual clients as well as a number of therapy groups including the Alzheimer's, aphasia, traumatic brain injury, and English-as-a-second-language groups. Providing consultation support to area professionals is another important service of our center.

The Speech and Hearing Center provides a supportive environment addressing the needs and concerns of individuals and families. As summarized by a SUNY undergraduate clinician, "Every day we are rewarded with the progress our clients make."

Persons interested in evaluation or treatment of a communication difficulty may contact the clinic directly at 518-564-2170.

- Sharon Macner, Au.D.

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2006 Graduate Class


"I have three children, at one time or another; they have all been to the PSU Speech and Hearing Center. Not one time have we ever been dissatisfied with the people or service." - parent

The Graduate Class of 2006 celebrated with faculty and families during the graduation celebration dinner hosted by the Department of Communication Disorders and Sciences. The event was held at the Plattsburgh Elks Club on the shores of Lake Champlain. The end of the road is bittersweet. While the students are launched into their bright futures, they will miss each other's daily company and support. [Back row, left to right: KorrineLaDuc, Beth Dumas, Amber Alford, Daniella Montalto, Rachel Mashtare, Katie Cutcher. Next row: Mary Dooher, Jennifer Champagne, Jill Utter, Amanda Mylott, and in front, Pam Ryan. Upper right: Mary Dooher makes a memorable speech. Right: Amber Alford and her peers presenting faculty "awards."] We'll miss you all!

John Trombley, M.S., CCC/SLP

Arlene Sypek

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Alumni Updates!

Have you gotten a new job? Started a new program at your work site? Presented at a conference? Received a promotion? Found the love of your life? Started a family? Traveled to faraway places? ... Or, are you simply wanting to get in touch with old classmates?

We welcome YOUR Alumni Updates! We'll save a spot for your news, whether personal or professional, that you want to share. It can be one sentence, a paragraph, or more. You can send a picture of yourself, too.

Send your news, or just make inquiries, to anyone in the Newsletter Committee or to Mrs. Sypek. Send YOUR news to the Newsletter Committee:

Communication Disorders and Sciences
224 Sibley Hall
State University of New York College at Plattsburgh
Plattsburgh, NY 12901

Phone: (518) 564-2170
Fax: (518) 564-5110

Suzanne Hungerford, Ph.D.: [email protected]
Sharon Macner, Au.D.: [email protected]
Katherine (Bea) Gonyo, M.C.D.: [email protected]
Mrs. Arlene Sypek: [email protected]

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