Helping Students and the Community

student and client
A speech-language student works with a young client.

The College of Health and Human Services has approximately 5,000 students within its five schools, all of whom are working toward a career in some sort of helping and/or healing profession.  That represents a huge amount of potential for the SDSU and wider community.  But community members don’t need to wait until these students receive their degrees and find employment before they benefit from that potential.  All of the schools have opportunities for students to learn and the community to benefit right now.

The School of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences operates two community clinics on campus.  They provide speech-language therapies and audiology services to more than 1,000 members of the San Diego community who are uninsured or underinsured.  Recently they changed their policies so they offer these ser-vices free of charge, although a donation of any amount is appreciated.  Under the supervision of licensed therapists, the speech-language master’s students get hands-on experience working with both children and adults.  They work with individuals who have trouble speaking or struggle to find the right words due to a cognitive challenge.  They help stroke survivors regain their speech and children with autism find words for the first time. While the students get an opportunity to practice their techniques and client relationship skills, the clients get real help with whatever speech-language issue they have. Meanwhile, on the other side of the building, the students working toward their doctoral degree in audiology have similar opportunities. They provide hearing tests and hearing aid fitting to 500 clients per year. They help with the delicate adjustments that today’s highly technical hearing aids require. Other SLHS students provide hearing and speech evaluations in local schools and senior centers, as well as helping preschool students in the City Heights area develop language skills.

fitness clinic
Students and participants in the Adaptive Fitness Clinic.

Exercise and Nutritional Sciences students have a wide range of outreach opportunities. About 250 students each year work with individuals with a wide variety of disabilities in the Adaptive Fitness Clinic. Clients pay a small fee to work one-on-one with a student intern toward their fitness goals. In a crowded fitness center in Peterson’s Gym these pairs work together to help clients regain strength and mobility, or maintain their fitness levels despite temporary or permanent disabilities. Students studying nutrition work with a local elementary school to build and maintain a school garden and to encourage the young students toward healthy eating practices.  The cutting-edge research being done by the physical therapy students may lead to individuals suffering from paralysis to walk again.  In the meantime, the research subjects who are helping the faculty and student researchers get to experience that cutting-edge technology now.  The SDSU sports teams benefit from the kinesiology students helping them improve their fitness and athletic trainers-to-be working to help them recover from injuries.

Social work students at a campus rally for unity.

Social work students, both undergraduate and graduate level, are required to engage in many hours of clinical practice each year as part of their curriculum.  Thus you can find student interns in a wide variety of social service agencies all over San Diego County.  They serve as members of the teams that evaluate children and families at risk, they help seniors find the services they need, and families who are homeless find food and shelter.  They serve in more than 200 places in San Diego County. Many local social service agencies admit they wouldn’t be able to provide the services they do to the number of people they reach without the help of these unpaid interns. Social work students are also particularly active in social justice causes and events on the SDSU campus.

Nursing students and young patient in Thailand.

Students in the School Of Nursing also have many hours of clinical education before they finish their program. They rotate through all of the departments in local hospitals as they work toward their degree. They help the nurses with direct patient care, under the supervision of their clinical instructors. This gives them an accurate picture of what nursing entails, develops patient relationship skills, as well as giving real-life hands-on skills practice. All while providing superior care to the hospital’s patients. Many nursing students also use their international experience to serve on health missions in developing countries, serving a very wide community indeed. Previous years have seen large groups of students travel to Thailand and Ghana.

Public health students surveying community needs in Baja California

Students in the Graduate School of Public Health are also active in the community. While they are not required to complete internships, the research studies that students and faculty conduct are placed within the community. Not only do these projects help formulate new programs to improve the health of the community, but they involve many community members as research subjects. Since the research may be looking at ways to improve physical fitness or decrease the risk of disease, the hundreds of participants are benefiting from that today. Public health students also pursue projects and research around the world as part of a commitment to global health.