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Student group earns nat'l award

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Sarah Smits-Bandstra

Sarah Smits-Bandstra, National Stuttering Assocation St. Cloud State University chapter adviser, shows the award the organization received for being named the 2014 Chapter of the Year at the organization's national conference this July.

National Stuttering Association (NSA) named the St. Cloud chapter the 2014 Chapter of the Year this July at the organization’s national conference.

The St. Cloud chapter, started in October 2012 as a student organization on campus, was honored for “going above and beyond in furthering the hope and empowerment message of the National Stuttering Association,” according to a letter from the organization presented with the award.

The group meets monthly during the school year and draws members from the student body and the community. Chapter meetings are led by students from the Communication Sciences and Disorders master’s program, said Sarah Smits-Bandstra, adviser and an assistant professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders.

In addition to meeting monthly, St. Cloud Chapter members also mentor elementary students who stutter and are dealing with teasing and bullying at school.

“They give them some perspective — ‘hey, you can be anything you want to be, you can dream anything you want to dream, this doesn’t have to stop you from doing anything you want to do,’” she said.

This year’s conference was held July 2-6 in Washington, D.C., and undergraduate student Jillian Nordby attended.

“The conference was an incredible experience,” Nordby said. “Being surrounded by over 950 people who stutter for four days was amazing.”

Attendees listened to speeches given by people who stutter (PWS), including a presentation by Parker Mantell, a social media video creator who gave the commencement speech for Indiana University, and a Skype address from Vice President Joe Biden, who also stutters, she said.

“The NSA chapter here on campus is a great way to learn more about stuttering and get involved on campus,” Nordby said. “My favorite part of being a part of the NSA chapter on campus has been learning more about stuttering and connecting with other people on campus who are either interested in stuttering or are a PWS like myself.”

Students can learn about the organization by visiting the group’s booth at Mainstreet Sept. 3 at the Atwood Mall.  

For more about the organization and award, see the story in Outlook Magazine.

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