Justine Luminoso, MA, CCC-SLP, continues to expand her career as she embarks on her second year of work as a newly certified speech-language pathologist and an active NJSHA member. During her graduate training, Justine worked in public schools, administering formal assessments to preschool through middle school students presenting with various receptive, expressive and social communication disorders. She was also assigned to an inpatient rehabilitation hospital, evaluating and treating patients with cognitive communication disorders, expressive/receptive language disorders, traumatic brain injury and voice disorders. She continued to expand her career by serving as NJSHA’s chair of the Student Involvement Committee, where she focused on establishing, maintaining and enhancing an active network among students in New Jersey speech-language pathology programs and to increase student membership in the association. Justine additionally served as the student representative for the NJSHA Board of Directors (2018-2019) where she had the opportunity to work alongside professionals who served as mentors and collaborative partners while supporting the needs of students and promoting association projects.
Why did you choose to become a speech-language pathologist (SLP)?
In 2014, my grandfather suffered a stroke and needed speech therapy. Unfortunately, he passed away within a week; however, during that difficult time, I was able to see how SLPs helped my grandfather, from feeding him, to helping him to talk, to answering our questions in order for us to communicate with him. It was really touching. I saw how SLPs can help people regain their skills, as well as develop them. As a child, I had a very hard time pronouncing “S,” and an SLP was there for me. I will always remember that. I knew being an SLP was the career for me.
Today, I am a newly certified SLP, working at Speech and Hearing Associates in Westfield. I am so excited about what I do. Everyday, I can put smiles on the faces of my clients. I can watch their progress, and I have the tremendous satisfaction of knowing I was able to help them communicate better. The appreciation from my clients and their families is so rewarding.
How did you become involved in NJSHA?
I joined as an undergraduate at Kean University, after the urging of Professor Marty Shulman, who has been encouraging his students to join for decades. We went to our first NJSHA Convention and I was hooked! I became the representative of the Student Involvement Committee at NJSHA in my graduate year at Kean and have been happily involved ever since.
It has been terrific to meet with so many experienced SLPs and audiologists in the state. Everyone is so welcoming and eager to help, such as with recommendations for clinical fellowships or with possible career opportunities. I know I can reach out with a question and so many NJSHA members will want to help me. It is such a wonderful group of people.
What NJSHA project have you been most excited about?
I had the opportunity to work last year on NJSHA’s “Community Caring Connect” project, in which we set up a booth at the NJSHA Convention in Long Branch and provided materials for participants to decorate superhero capes, which we then donated to the pediatric unit of Jersey Shore Medical Center in Neptune. It was so awesome to decorate the capes and then deliver them to the hospital, where we were able to take photos with staff. It was all-around a great event and so worthwhile. I’ll never forget it.
I received plenty of support on this project from Donna Spillman-Kennedy, which is why I consider her to be my “NJSHA Hero.” She has guided me through this entire journey as an amazing colleague and has really trusted me. Donna always assures me “everything will be ok,” and she has always been there for whatever I need.
Working with Donna on the “Community Caring Connect” campaign underscored to me, yet again, that NJSHA is a family. We may not know everyone, as there are so many members across New Jersey, but I know that I can always rely on the association members whenever I need guidance or a trusted resource.
How can others get more involved in NJSHA?
NJSHA has so many committees; there are endless ways for members to get involved in whatever area they have passion and interest.
For me, it is about continuing to grow NJSHA. The last Convention was cancelled, as we all know, so we lost an opportunity to interact. We plan to have another “Community Caring Connect” project. The current student representative for the NJSHA Board of Directors and I want to get more students involved in this community service campaign. There needs to be a focus on the next generation of NJSHA, and we need to continue to be mentors for these students.
I want these speech and audiology students to be very comfortable coming to me and asking questions about NJSHA and the profession. It wasn’t very long ago that I was one of them, so I really see things through their eyes. That is why I still want to be connected with NJSHA’s Student Involvement Group and look for ways to start new projects and get back to the universities, where we can bring other students into NJSHA. We want these students to grow with us, take advantage of the many benefits of NJSHA and see what we can accomplish next, together.