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McMicken To Receive Two Awards At ASHA Convention

Published: November 14, 2011

Betty McMicken, an assistant professor in the Communicative Disorders Department at CSULB, will be honored twice at the American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA) annual convention in San Diego, Nov. 17-19. The award ceremony will take place on Nov. 18.

The title of ASHA Fellow will be bestowed upon McMicken along with 24 other of the organization’s members given to those who have made outstanding contributions to the discipline of communication sciences and disorders. In addition, she will receive the ASHA Beacon of Change Award, which is a reflection of her work at the Anne Douglas Center and Los Angeles Mission.

“They are making me a Fellow of the organization, which is one of the highest honors they give,” said McMicken. “They are not limited to the state of California, so this is a national recognition. It signifies a contribution on both a state and a national basis, particularly in the area of research over a lifetime.”

To be eligible for the Fellow, nominees must show outstanding contributions to their profession in three of the following areas—clinical service in the area of speech-language pathology and audiology; teaching in speech-language pathology, audiology, speech-language-hearing sciences and related areas; research and publications contributing to the knowledge needed by the professions; administrative services in the area of speech-language pathology, audiology, and speech-language-hearing sciences; and service to ASHA.

“This is the first national honor that I have been awarded,” said McMicken. “I am always overwhelmed when I look back at my career. It’s always something I did out of dedication and love and I can’t imagine being lauded or praised for doing what I consider such a privilege.

“I think one of the really strong statements that becoming a Fellow makes to me is that the people whom I chose as mentors in the 1960s and 1970s were giants in the field,” she added. “They were, and continue to be, extremely generous, patient, and consistent in their support. I was introduced to them by my business partner and mentor Elizabeth Wallace. I think everyone needs to choose people who have something to offer them. Someone who can add to their careers and life and then,take the time to learn from them.”

A great portion of McMicken’s work has been medical/clinical research focusing on head and neck reconstruction. The team that she worked with at Western Medical Center and UC Irvine in the 1980s did state-of-the-art work in terms of being able to produce functional results from massive neck reconstruction and she wrote on that in the 1980s and 1990s.

American Speech and Hearing Association logo

McMicken’s other ASHA recognition earns her the title Beacon of Change, which comes from the organization’s program called Faces of Inspiration. Members are asked to nominate colleagues who, as volunteers or in their job capacity, have been instrumental in changing the lives of others either by using their skills as a speech pathologist or some other aspect of their skills.

McMicken’s 46-year-long career path has included a speech and audiology internship at the West L.A. Veterans Administration Hospital in the 1960s, co-founding (with Wallace) and directing the Orange County-based Newport Language and Speech Center in 1970, directing a speech and hearing program at Western Medical Center in Orange County for 20 years, and serving as the chair and full professor in the Communicative Disorders Department at Cal State Los Angeles for seven years in the 1990s before briefly retiring. In 1998, she came out of what she called retirement boredom to become a part-time lecturer at CSULB and within a year was full-time and became an assistant professor in 2006. In addition she has worked tirelessly and included CSULB students in her efforts at the Los Angeles Mission/Anne Douglas Center. She has been legendary actor Kirk Douglas’ personal speech therapist since 2007.

“A tremendous message as far as I am concerned is that if you choose people to learn from who can add to your life and career, then allow yourself to learn, there’s no limit to your potential and your help for others,” said McMicken. “I was so blessed by Liz Wallace in my life. She was such a wonderful mentor. She really opened my eyes to what the top educators and researchers in our field could teach me and at the time they were the consultants to the business we had started. We were so blessed to have these giants on board. I guess I just learned well and to this day love to share that continued learning.”

–Shayne Schroeder