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NMSU College of Education professor receives national award

Deborah Rhein, an associate professor of Special Education and Communication Disorders at New Mexico State University?s College of Education, has been chosen to receive the 2015 Certificate of Recognition for Special Contributions in Multicultural Affairs from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.



Deborah Rhein, an associate professor of Special Education and Communication Disorders at New Mexico State University?s College of Education, has been chosen to receive the 2015 Certificate of Recognition for Special Contributions to Multicultural Affairs from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips)

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association is a professional, scientific and credentialing association for 180,000 members and affiliates who are audiologists, speech-language pathologists and speech, language and hearing scientists. It provides governmental oversight and advocacy for legislative issues related to scope of practice, reimbursement and ethical practice.

The Multicultural Affairs Award has been awarded to 38 people since the award?s inception in 2003 for their outstanding contributions in the areas of multicultural professional education, multicultural research and clinical service to multicultural populations.

?I?m thrilled to receive this award, but my work would not have been possible without the commitment to multiculturalism from the department and the College of Education,? Rhein said. ?I believe this award reflects the best of what we can do at NMSU.?

Rhein began working at NMSU in 2005 with the goal of developing a bilingual/multicultural program in speech-language pathology. Rhein became interested in her goal after spending the majority of her childhood in Panama, Mexico and Colombia and becoming fluent in Spanish. Over the past 10 years, Rhein has helped make NMSU one of the premier bilingual graduate programs in speech-language pathology in the country.

She developed a bilingual concentration to better prepare beginning speech-language pathologists in bilingual assessment and intervention. In developing this program, she used her early experiences in the 1990s as a bilingual speech-language pathologist when she struggled to find training and resources to guide her when assessing and providing intervention for English Language Learners.

In 2008, Rhein received her first Office of Special Education Program Grant ? an $800,000 grant called the Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Speech-Language Services for All Language Learners, or CLASS for ALL. By 2013, 21 bilingual speech-language pathologists had completed the training. In 2013, in a joint venture with the University of New Mexico, she wrote and received another grant for $1.25 million to train 90 additional bilingual speech-language pathologists. Part of this grant involved course sharing between the two universities, thus maximizing resources.
As part of this grant she developed a new three-course requirement to train bilingual speech-language pathologists.

Rhein has also made important contributions to the New Mexico Speech Language and Hearing Association. NMSHA had been lobbying for many years for the inclusion of a bilingual speech-language pathology specialty endorsement. Rhein and other state leaders successfully lobbied for this endorsement, which was approved in 2013. The endorsement included a recommended set of coursework that was modeled after the coursework that Rhein developed for the bilingual/multicultural program at NMSU. New Mexico is the first state in the country to have this bilingual endorsement, which raised the standards for speech-language pathologists who provide bilingual services.

Rhein will receive the award at ASHA?s national convention in November in Denver.