University News

Warhawk earns national speech language pathology scholarship

April 02, 2024

Written by Chris Lindeke | Photos by Craig Schreiner

As a communication sciences and disorders major at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, Kelly Pollina has taken advantage of many opportunities offered to undergraduate students in the program, including research, community service and other hands-on projects.

She recently earned an opportunity afforded to only 10 students from colleges and universities around the nation.

In February, Pollina was announced as a winner of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association (NSSLHA) undergraduate scholarship. The Glenview, Illinois, native is one of six juniors in the country to receive the award.

Pollina was excited and surprised when she was notified about the scholarship by the organization.

NSSLHA is under the umbrella of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASLHA), which serves as the governing body for speech-language pathologists and audiologists.

Kelly Pollina.

Pollina, an aspiring audiologist, has been an active member of UW-Whitewater’s NSSLHA chapter since starting on campus in the fall of 2021. The chapter provides communication sciences and disorders majors with information about the graduate school process, connects students with professionals in speech-language pathology and audiology, and participates in philanthropic projects to support the profession.

The group recently organized a fundraiser to help pay for a communication board on a playground so children with communication difficulties could have an interactive experience with their peers.

Pictured, right: Kelly Pollina, a communication sciences and disorders student and winner of a national scholarship from NSSLHA, in Andersen Library on Wednesday, March 20, 2024.

“It’s a good mix of providing resources for the students as well as providing us a way to advocate and get involved in our future careers,” Pollina said.

As a student at Glenbrook South High School, Pollina explored institutions in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin, looking at social work programs. Once she decided to pursue communication sciences and disorders and majors in that realm, her search narrowed to a handful of schools.

She liked the presence of the communication sciences and disorders programs for both undergraduate and graduate students at UW-Whitewater as well as the short driving distance from home.

Pollina and her parents made the 2-hour drive from Glenview to visit the Whitewater campus on a summer day with no tour scheduled.

“I fell in love with the campus,” Pollina said. “It really changed my perspective on college. I was really nervous to go to college, but once I saw Whitewater, I thought, ‘yeah, this is probably something I could do — I really like this place.’ Since I visited, it’s always been Whitewater.”


A person sits a table in a meeting.

Kelly Pollina, a communication sciences and disorders student and winner of a national scholarship from NSSLHA, in Andersen Library on Wednesday, Mar. 20, 2024.


Pollina joined Alpha Gamma Delta during her first year on campus and was motivated to get involved. She is currently an intern for the communication sciences and disorders department, working under Associate Professor Lynn Gilbertson and focusing on outreach and student involvement. She worked for the First Year Experience office as a peer mentor during the fall of 2023.

“I think connections with people and with organizations has really helped me feel like I belong here,” Pollina said.

As an audiologist, Pollina will work to diagnose, manage and treat hearing, balance or ear problems. She hopes to work with children, focusing on the infant and toddler populations, who are deaf or hard of hearing.

After graduation, Pollina estimates she has three to four more years of school to earn her doctorate in audiology. She is in line to receive her degree in May of 2025.

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