By Despina Williams Parker
For the second year in a row, a graduate of the Communication Disorders Department has been named class valedictorian. Arielle Rubinstein, who double majored in linguistics and maintained a perfect 4.0 GPA, delivered the class of 2014 commencement address on Sunday, May 18, at the Old Main Quadrangle.
At New Paltz, Rubinstein distinguished herself as excellent student and leader. She served as president of the National Student Speech Language and Hearing Association (NSSLHA), which advocates for communication disorders organizations. Through her work with the association, she organized fundraisers for the National Foundation of Swallowing Disorders and invited experts in the field to campus to deliver lectures.
As a student, she interned at a special services elementary school in her hometown of Robbinsville, N.J., where she learned valuable skills that she will apply in her chosen career as a speech language pathologist. “It gave me a good foundation of what it means to be speech pathologist, especially working with a population that’s so impaired,” she said. “It was more meaningful because you were helping students really communicate.”
In her senior year, she worked in the Communication Disorders Department’s Early Intervention Clinic, conducting therapy with both a client and parent. “The point is to make the parent the therapist,” Rubinstein noted. “You’re working with children with language disorders and delays and showing parents how to model language with the child and engage the child in play to produce language. You are showing parents how to create an optimal environment for the child to communicate.”
Rubinstein said her client, a two-year-old girl, made significant progress during their time together. “By the end, she was initiating her own play, using three- and four-letter words to express what she wanted, and had more consideration of other people within her play situations,” she said.
Rubinstein has been accepted into New Paltz’s Master of Science in Communication Disorders program. Though she was accepted at other schools, Rubinstein said she liked the “sense of community” at New Paltz.
“I know all the professors really well. I was one of those people who always went to office hours to get help, and I felt like they were always there for me when I had a problem. They want you to do well. They’re really encouraging and supportive,” Rubinstein said.
Rubinstein noted the importance of developing relationships with professors and getting involved in campus life. The class valedictorian advised her New Paltz peers to take an active role in their education.
“Things aren’t always going to come to you. You have to go out and work for them,” she said.
Watch Rubinstein’s valedictory address here.