After graduating in May with a master’s degree from SUNY Buffalo State’s Speech-Language Pathology Department, Alysa Dilts plans to return to the Finger Lakes region where she grew up and seek a position working with children with hearing and speech disabilities.
"I hope to work in a school setting. I love working with kids, especially very young ones,” said Dilts, whose face brightens when discussing her future career. "I can see myself providing therapy services to children all over the spectrum—from those who use a speech device to help them talk, to ones with more severe impairments due to cerebral palsy or brain injuries."
Despite her passion and determination, Dilts almost dropped out of the program one semester shy of graduation. Last fall, her family began experiencing financial difficulties due to a job loss. As they were facing foreclosure on their home, they couldn’t co-sign on needed loans. Meanwhile, Dilts still owed money for the past two semesters, and this prevented her from enrolling in spring classes.
"I was desperate to find scholarships or fellowships, but I was having no luck," she said.
Her luck changed after Diltz connected with Connie Cooke, director of financial aid. After assessing Dilts’ situation, Cooke awarded her a Bridge the Gap Scholarship.
Created in 1995, this scholarship is funded through private contributions from faculty, staff, alumni, and friends of the college. This includes the Faculty and Staff Appeal. It is designed for students like Dilts who are nearing graduation and face unexpected tuition expenses that threaten their ability to complete their degree. In this case, Bridge the Gap Scholarship covered a significant percentage of Dilts’ outstanding tuition bill.
"A scholarship like this was the last thing I was expecting," Dilts said. "It was such a relief."
Because speech-language pathologists are in high demand, Dilts said she feels optimistic about her job prospects.
"I feel like things are finally going the right way," Dilts said.
Without the assistance of dedicated faculty and staff members, crucial funds such as Bridge the Gap Scholarship would not exist. To learn how you can contribute to the 2014 Faculty and Staff Appeal, contact Claire Collier at (716) 878-5206.