As with many professionals in the field of speech-language pathology, Iona associate professor and chair of the Speech Communication Studies (SCS) department, Jennifer Gerometta, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, was drawn to the profession because of her life experiences. Her youngest brother was diagnosed with profound hearing loss in infancy, which influenced and inspired her by watching the work of the speech-language pathologists who impacted her family. Wishing to make a significant contribution to the field as a professional, Dr. Gerometta went on to earn a Ph.D. in Speech and Hearing Sciences from City University of New York, an MS in Communication Sciences and Disorders and a BSW (Bachelors of Social Work) from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA.
It was a faculty member and friend who pointed her to the opportunity at Iona when a position became available in the SCS department. “I knew from the moment I stepped foot on campus that I wanted to build my career here at Iona. The campus is beautiful, and I soon formed bonds with like-minded faculty and staff. The campus truly is mission-driven, and those who make a home here work for justice and believe in the power of higher education,” shared Dr. Gerometta.
It didn’t take long before she was making an impact and was awarded the Br. William H. Barnes Memorial Award for Service to The College, which celebrates service to others. She was also honored by the Westchester County Veteran’s agency, where she received a Workforce Development Institute (WDI) grant to serve the communication needs of local veterans. Dr. Gerometta takes pride in the collaboration between the College and the local veteran’s agency, and the collaboration among colleagues within the SCS department to move the grant forward. She was also awarded the Brother Richard B. Power award for integrating service learning into the classroom.
Along with her colleagues, Dr. Gerometta has worked tirelessly to assist in Iona receiving accreditation by the Council on Academic Accreditation and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association for their graduate program. She adds, “We worked for years to develop a phenomenal program that prepares students to become empathetic speech-language pathologists (SLPs). Our clinic is state-of-the-art, and our faculty and staff are knowledgeable practitioners and researchers. We train our students to be engaged advocates for clients. We have developed a program that is mission-driven.”
Though Dr. Gerometta and her colleagues know they are doing great work, accreditation is imperative in meeting national standards to educate Iona students, while validating everything they have built. “We are unique because we train the empathetic SLP. And we examine ethical issues, consistent with Iona’s mission. Other schools train SLPs. We train SLPs with an eye toward the the holistic needs of clients,” says Dr. Gerometta.
She is currently working on collaborations with her Allied Health partners on campus and will be gearing up for the release of the inaugural issue of a new journal, The Iona Journal of Allied Health: Perspectives of Social Justice, which will be published in the summer of 2019. It is an interdisciplinary journal, which offers graduate and undergraduate students the opportunity to publish their research.
Her advice to students is to: “Engage in your learning communities as freshmen. Enroll in service-learning courses. Make connections through co-curricular clubs and activities. Study abroad. Go on a mission trip. The opportunities to engage with others on campus are endless. These experiences will expand the reach of who you are.”