September 1, 2015

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

Renee Hannibal’s Commitment To Students Leads to National Recognition

VALDOSTA — Nine years ago Dr. Ruth Renee Hannibal joined the ranks of an elite group of volunteer mentors committed to making a difference in the lives of students through the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s award-winning Student to Empowered Professional (S.T.E.P.) Mentoring Program. She saw the opportunity as one more chance to connect with and to empower the next generation of speech-language pathologists outside of the classroom.

“I enjoy my work, and I enjoy sharing my life experiences with my mentees,” said Hannibal, a certified speech-language pathologist who works as an associate professor in Valdosta State University’s Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders and provides speech, language, and swallowing services on an as-needed basis at Brooks County Hospital in Quitman. “It gives me great joy to positively impact a person’s life by mentoring them through their ‘academic life.’”

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s S.T.E.P. Mentoring Program is an online initiative that pairs self-motivated students enrolled in a communication sciences and disorders program with experienced professionals in meaningful, one-to-one mentoring relationships. Since matches are based on common professional interests and not geographic location, Hannibal communicates with her mentees via email, Skype, phone, text, or Facebook and helps them work towards short- and long-term goals by providing information and inspiration. The program was started in 2004 and has already impacted some 2,000 students at colleges and universities across the nation, particularly students from racial and ethnic backgrounds historically underrepresented in the speech-language-hearing profession. 

Hannibal’s work with the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s S.T.E.P. Mentoring Program led to her receiving national recognition during the 2014-2015 academic year. Association leaders said that their program just would not be successful without the dedication and devotion of such committed mentors.

“It was an honor to be recognized by my professional organization …,” said Hannibal, who has been a member of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association since 1981.

Hannibal is no stranger to mentoring future speech-language pathologists. She has managed, trained, supervised, and instructed the next generation of professionals for more than three decades. She has the experience to support what she teaches, having worked as a speech-language pathologist in schools, home health organizations, outpatient programs, hospitals, and nursing facilities in Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia, and Michigan since 1978. She joined the VSU Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders faculty in 2000.

Hannibal holds a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts from South Carolina State University in Orangeburg, S.C., and a Doctor of Philosophy from Michigan State University in East Lansing, Mich., all with a focus in speech-language pathology. She specializes in adult neurogenics, gerontology, and dysphagia and, as an expert in her field, has published articles in peer-reviewed journals and presented research at conferences, meetings, and special events throughout South Carolina, Florida, Michigan, Louisiana, Virginia, California, Georgia, and Wisconsin. 

Contact Dr. Ruth Renee Hannibal at (229) 219-1310 or to learn more.

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About the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association:

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association is the national professional, scientific, and credentialing association for 182,000 members and affiliates who are audiologists; speech-language pathologists; speech, language, and hearing scientists; audiology and speech-language pathology support personnel; and students. Audiologists specialize in preventing and assessing hearing and balance disorders, as well as providing audiologic treatment, including hearing aids. Speech-language pathologists identify, assess, and treat speech and language problems, including swallowing disorders.

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s vision is to make effective communication a human right accessible and achievable for all. Its mission is to empower and support audiologists, speech-language pathologists, and speech, language, and hearing scientists by advancing science, setting standards, fostering excellence in professional practice, and advocating for members and those they serve.

Valdosta State University’s 2013-2019 Strategic Plan represents a renewal of energy and commitment to the foundational principles for comprehensive institutions.

Implementation of the plan’s five goals, along with their accompanying objectives and strategies, supports VSU’s institutional mission and the University System of Georgia’s mission for comprehensive universities. 

The story above demonstrates VSU's commitment to meeting the following goals: 

Goal 1: Recruit, retain, and graduate a quality, diverse student population and prepare students for roles as leaders in a global society.

Goal 3: Promote student, employee, alumni, retiree, and community engagement in our mission.

Goal 4: Foster an environment of creativity and scholarship.

Goal 5: Develop and enhance Valdosta State’s human and physical resources.

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