SLP graduate student receives ASHFoundation Scholarship

Nicholas A. Barone
Nicholas A. Barone of Dallas Borough, Pa., a speech-language pathology (SLP) graduate student at Misericordia University, was awarded one of 12 prestigious national scholarships by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation at the annual Founders Breakfast in San Diego, Calif.

More than 100 master’s and doctoral level students applied for the scholarships made available by the American Speech-Language-Hearing (ASH) Foundation’s 2011 Graduate Student Scholarship Competition. Other award recipients included collegians from Florida State University, University of Kentucky, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Maryland, University of Washington, and Vanderbilt University. The scholarship recognizes students in communication sciences and disorders who demonstrate academic achievement and promise.

The ASHFoundation scholarship is the second significant award Barone has received in 2011. He was awarded the 2011 Von Drach Memorial Scholarship by the Pennsylvania Speech-Language-Hearing Association (PSHA) at the 52nd annual convention in Pittsburgh, Pa., in April. The Von Drach award is presented to an outstanding graduate student from one of Pennsylvania’s 14 SLP schools in memory of Dr. Robert Von Drach.

As part of the ASHFoundation competition, students had to complete an application, write an essay and also obtain reference letters. At Misericordia University, Barone is known as an exceptional student who performs in the top 1 percent of his class in academics and clinical coursework.

“He has a keen intellect and it is apparent from his insights that he goes beyond the textbook to enlighten his peers and to seek clarification of important concepts,’’ Misericordia University professors wrote in his reference letter. “In his graduate voice class, Nicholas conducted extensive normative research on resonance parameters of the voice. His data were so meticulously obtained that his professor encouraged him to complete a master’s thesis (on the acoustic and aerodynamic properties of the true vocal-folds body cover conditions) because no information about this topic has ever been obtained.’’

Overall, Barone has maintained a 4.0 grade point average at Misericordia University and has conducted research on fluency disorders, autism, stuttering, cluttering and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder with Kathleen Scaler Scott, Ph.D., C.C.C.-SLP, an assistant professor of SLP at Misericordia University. Together, Dr. Scaler Scott and Barone have presented their research findings in poster presentations at the 2010 and 2011 PSHA conferences, and they co-delivered a lecture on linking disinhibition to disfluency at the 2010 American Speech-Language-Hearing Association National Convention (ASHA).

Barone also explored the benefits and limitations of YouTube in the context of telerehabilitation with Hunter Manasco, Ph.D., C.C.C.-SLP, an assistant professor of SLP at Misericordia University. Their research was later published in the fall 2010 issue of the International Journal of Telerehabilitation. Barone was listed as the second author.

His second graduate assistantship in the MU program required him to work extensively with Glen Tellis, Ph.D., C.C.C.-SLP, professor and chair of the SLP Program at Misericordia University. They worked on a survey to help in the development of strategies on how to deal with bullying for teens who stutter. Barone also compiled and analyzed results of a nationwide study on how prepared clinicians are to treat stuttering and participated in a joint study with the University of Pennsylvania using diffuse correlation spectroscopy to measure cortical blood flow in people who stutter. He assisted in a recent peer-reviewed publication for this study. All three studies were presented at the last PSHA and ASHA conventions.

Barone recently completed his graduate thesis under the mentorship of Cari Tellis, Ph.D., C.C.C.-SLP, an assistant professor in the SLP Department at Misericordia. The focus of his thesis is determining normative values for the true vocal-folds body cover conditions to aid in defining perceptual voice quality measures in typical speakers and people with voice disorders. His passion lies in the study of the voice and the relationship of vocal production to stuttering therapy. He recently presented his research as well as other studies he has conducted with Dr. Cari Tellis at the World Voice Symposium in Rome, Italy.

“Through the pursuit of my master’s degree and, ultimately, a Ph.D., I will have the opportunity to not only treat those with communication disorders, but will also continue adding to the database of evidence-based practices through my research,’’ Barone wrote in the essay he submitted for the ASHFoundation competition. “Research is extremely important in our field, but it is useless unless it is disseminated through publications and presentations. That is why I have been active in the dissemination of the research I have been a part of .’’

Barone will receive his Master of Science degree in SLP from Misericordia University at the inaugural mid-year commencement ceremony in December. He recently completed two fieldwork placements in the Otolaryngology Department at Johns Hopkins Rehabilitation Hospital in Baltimore, Md., and at the Dallas School District in Dallas, Pa.

Barone plans to pursue his Ph.D. in voice disorders upon graduation from Misericordia University.

“We (SLPs) have the obligation to our clients to help them regain their voice, but as a pursuer of my Ph.D., I feel I also have the obligation to my field to provide research and data that supports the treatments that are used’’ Barone added in his essay. “For me, the field of SLP has helped me find my voice, as a student, clinician and researcher. SLP gave my life direction and reintroduced me to the joys and love of learning.

“We can never believe that the best way to do something has been discovered. We must always be striving to find new better ways of treating individuals and new forward ways of thinking about our profession. It is the responsibility of all of us to make our field the best it can be, to give it direction and aim that surrounds the patient/client, to give speech-language pathology a voice to be reckoned with,’’ he concluded.

For more information about the Speech-Language Pathology program at Misericordia University, please call Michelle Donato at (570) 674-TALK or log on to Founded and Sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy in 1924, Misericordia University is Luzerne County’s first four-year college and offers 32 bachelor, master’s and doctoral academic programs in three colleges in full and part-time formats.