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ASU student uses literature to shine light on marginalized groups

ASU doctoral grad said reading Chicana author Gloria Anzaldua changed her life.
May 18, 2017

Seventh annual Dia De Los Ninos/Dia De Los Libros at Tempe campus celebrates youth, languages, cultures and literacy

It wasn’t until her second year as a doctoral candidate at ASU that Tracey Flores first read Chicana author Gloria Anzaldua, and it changed her life: She remembers it as her first time reading stories she could relate to as a young Latina.

“I was just like, ‘Why didn’t I have this sooner?'” Flores said. At the time, she had been teaching elementary school in the Valley for about eight years, and she couldn’t help but wonder, “What would happen if we brought this kind of literature in (to kid’s lives earlier)?”

This week Flores and a team of helpers did just that when they welcomed roughly 450 junior high and high school students to ASU’s Tempe campus for the seventh annual Dia De Los Ninos/Dia De Los Libros, a celebration of youth, languages, literacy and cultures.

The event brings together Phoenix-area youth with local and national young-adult authors, with a focus on multicultural storytelling. The students get a chance to hear the authors speak about their personal experiences and struggles with reading and writing, and also attend literacy workshops given by the authors, ASU professors and grad students.

ASU English Professor Jim Blasingame helped organize the event with Flores. He said it shines a much-needed light on the cultural richness in Arizona, with its substantial Latino population and 22 indigenous nations.

“A lot of books in the young-adult canon are largely written by DOWMs — dead, old, white men,” Blasingame said. “But there are all these fantastic award-winning books and authors who are still alive” and who better reflect the experiences of Arizona youth. Better still, he added, “They can come here and meet with these kids.”

One who did, Duncan Tonatiuh, told students at the beginning of the day, “It’s important to share our stories, because if we don’t, others won’t either.”

Tonatiuh’s books reflect his Mexican-American heritage in both story and illustrative style, which is heavily influenced by pre-Columbian art with strong Aztec and Mayan overtones. Copies of his book, “Separate Is Never Equal,” were given out at the event.

“This event is really about connecting youth with literature that mirrors their experiences,” Flores said. “It provides a space for them to realize the power their stories and experiences can have to liberate and change lives, and how through sharing their stories and experiences, they can make a difference in the world.”

Flores, who earned her doctorate in English educationFlores also has a bachelor’s in journalism, Spanish and elementary education, as well as a master’s in curriculum and instruction, all from ASU. from ASU in May, will be relinquishing her role as director of the event when she heads to the University of Texas-Austin this summer to become an associate professor of language and literacy.

Celebrating marginalized identities in youth literacy has been one of the defining characteristics of her studies at ASU. Her dissertation, Somos Escritoras/We Are Writers, focused on the sharing of stories between Latina mothers and their adolescent daughters through their participation in a mother-daughter writing workshop.

Video by Deanna Dent/ASU Now


“I grew up surrounded by stories,” Flores said. “When I think about the people who cultivated and nurtured me, it’s my nana and my mom, and even my sisters and my aunts. They told me a lot of stories growing up, stories to protect me and stories to teach me lessons and stories of struggle but also success, and I always carried that with me.”

Flores created Somos Escritoras so that other Latina girls could benefit from having a place to share their stories, where they felt heard and that their voices mattered. She recently received a grant through the Center for Excellence in Education to conduct a second iteration of the program, which will begin in June and take place at ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus.

When she moves to Texas, she hopes to partner with a similar program there, Con Mi Madre, to continue her work with mother-daughter literacy workshops.

Flores is also in the midst of a two-year fellowship with the National Council of Teachers of English, called “Cultivating New Voices among Scholars of Color.” It’s a prestigious mentorship program for advanced doctoral students and early-career scholars of color, and she said she’s relishing the opportunity to share research and receive feedback from “rock stars” in the field while advancing her personal mission.

“We need to honor and celebrate and create space for girls to find their voices and feel confident in finding their voices,” Flores said, noting how challenging but also liberating it was to earn her doctorate at ASU. “It has been a huge transformation for me, as a woman … in how I view the world, how I’m raising my daughter, in how I’m navigating the academy and the things that are important for me. And so if we can create classrooms and spaces like that for girls, I just think that we could make a huge difference in the world.”


Top photo: (From left) Imagine Desert West seventh-graders Brisa Silis and Arely Castro read the book "Separate Is Never Equal," copies of which they received during Dia De Los Ninos/Dia De Los Libro on Monday on the Tempe campus. The book's author, Duncan Tonatiuh, had told students earlier that day, “It’s important to share our stories, because if we don’t, others won’t either.” Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

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May 23, 2017

This month is Better Hearing and Speech Month, which was created to raise awareness about communication and listening disorders each May.

At Arizona State University, the Department of Speech and Hearing ScienceThe Department of Speech and Hearing Science is in the College of Health Solutions. trains speech-language pathologists, audiologists and researchers, and the university boasts highly ranked national programs inside the field. ASU also offers a speech and hearing clinic, which provides audiology and speech services, performed by graduate student clinicians under the direct support of licensed, certified faculty members.

With the help of a pair of ASU's clinical professors and the Department of Speech and Hearing Science, here is a list of 10 things to know about hearing, speech and ASU's connection to the field.


1. Speaking more than one language does not cause speech problems

A common assumption is that multilingual children may suffer from speech problems, but according to the Department of Speech and Hearing Science, this is not the case. Kids who speak more than one language seem to have an overall speech development pattern that is similar to monolingual children, and there are clear differences between languages in regards to their influence on speech sound development. 


2. Close to a quarter of Americans suffer from hearing loss

With nearly 25 percent of Americans suffering from hearing loss and the numerous side effects that come with it, ASU is working hard to make life easier and simpler. 

ASU's clinic provides comphrehensive hearing health care along with a Living WELL With Hearing Loss group and assistance to purchase an affordable hearing aid.


3. All sounds should be acquired by ages 6 to 8

According the Department of Speech and Hearing Science, typical-development children will have standard articulation by the age of 6, 7 or 8. This means that they will be abe to produce all sounds by the third or fourth grade. 

It is important to note, however, that every child is unique and grows at a different pace. 


4. Exposure of sounds at 85 decibles or higher is the leading cause of hearing loss

Depending on how long one is around a high noise, things like an airplane taking off, a bulldozer or even a single gunshot can be blamed for hearing damage. 

"There is a dose-duration trade-off," said Erica Williams, a clinical assosiciate professor at ASU. "The higher the intensity of the sound above 85 dB, the less time it is safe to be exposed without the potential for permanent damage. For example, on average, at 85 dB a sound can be listened to safely for eight hours, but at 95 dB there is only one hour before the risk of permanent damage occurs."  


5. Audiologists can help patients with up to 5 different disorders and problems

Whether it's helping with hearing disorders, auditory processing disorders, balance disorders, ringing in the ear, or sensitivies to particular sounds, an audioloigst's work is important and wide-ranging. 

ASU's audiology program is accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation. 


6. Speech language pathologists can assist patients in 6 separate capacities

ASU's speech-language pathology program is accredited by the American Speech Language Hearing Association. 

These pathologists assist patients with reading, swallowing, problem-solving, social cues, voice, and speech and language. 


7. ASU offers an elementary language and literacy summer program for 2nd-graders

ASU's speech and language clinic includes pediatric communication clinics that provide services to families and their children. Using early intervention, speech language development and pre-literacy skills, the clinic also has a language and literacy summer program for second-graders.

This year's SPELL-2 program will begin on Tuesday, May 30. More information for the event can be found here


8. ASU's doctoral program prepares students for research careers in 3 environments

No matter what area of focus students may be looking for, ASU has it covered. A hands-on opportunity to train in different settings is what sets ASU apart from others around the country. 

ASU's doctoral program prepares students for careers in research in academic, industrial or health-care environments.


9. ASU's audiology graduate program is ranked No. 9 in the country

ASU has highly ranked clinical graduate programs that train future audiologists — the university is currently ranked ninth in the country by the U.S. News and World Report.

That report gave ASU a 3.6 (out of five possible points) when published last year. The university was just one of three in the West to be ranked in the top 12. 


10. ASU has a speech and hearing clinic that provides training to students as well as clinical service to individuals of all ages

ASU's wide-ranging speech and hearing clinics are well-renowned in the area because of all of the services offered. 

Below is a list of just some of the services provided, according to Kelly Ingram, professor and director of ASU's Speech and Language Clinic.

  • fluency evaluations and treatment for people who stutter
  • articulation therapy for people who have difficulty producing certain sounds, especially /s/ and /r/
  • language and literacy therapy for people who are struggling to read and retain information
  • cognitive strategies for clients with mild traumatic brain injury to help them be more successful at school
  • pediatric speech and language services for children from 18 months to 5 years of age with speech and language deficits or children who have a diagnosis that puts them at risk for language delays
  • cochlear implant services in both audiology and speech
  • hearing evaluations for clients with suspected hearing loss
  • hearing management option for individuals with hearing loss


All photos courtesy of ASU Now and