by Cecil Harris“You make a difference in so many people’s lives, and those people stay in touch with you over the years. I’ve been to three weddings and a couple of bar mitzvahs of people I’ve treated. And every Christmas, my wall is filled with cards from people I’ve treated.”–Cindy Arroyo ’78, M.S. ’79, Ph.D. ’05
Using one’s expertise to treat patients while educating and inspiring a new generation of practitioners have been the hallmarks of a rewarding career for Cindy Arroyo ’78, M.S. ’79, Ph.D. ’05, a speech language pathologist and associate professor of communication sciences and disorders at Adelphi University’s Ruth S. Ammon School of Education.
Dr. Arroyo’s decades of outstanding work were formally recognized this past October when she received the Mimi Katzen Memorial Award from the Long Island Speech-Language-Hearing Association (LISHA).
“It’s a very big honor because it’s an award for clinical research and I’ve been in the field of speech language pathology for 35 years,” Dr. Arroyo said. “I’ve brought a lot of clinical stories and experience to my teaching, which I think the students appreciate. The clinical part of my job is very rewarding.”
The Katzen Award, named in honor of a former speech language pathologist in Suffolk County, is bestowed annually by LISHA to someone engaged in rehabilitation and/or research relating to disorders of human communication sciences.
Elaine Sands, Ph.D., also an associate professor of communication sciences and disorders at the Ammon School of Education, presented the award to Dr. Arroyo (pictured left in the photo). Dr. Sands is a former dean of the Ammon School of Education.
“That was very special because Dr. Sands was my professor when I was an undergraduate at Adelphi,” Dr. Arroyo said. “She’s now my colleague and a good friend.”
Dr. Arroyo also received the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association Award for Continuing Education in 2007, 2009 and 2011.
It’s not surprising that Dr. Arroyo became an educator; her father was a history teacher. She chose to specialize in speech language pathology after taking an advanced high school course in psycholinguistics. Her studies at Adelphi laid the foundation for her professional success.
“I’m proud to say that I received my bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and doctoral degree from Adelphi University,” the Oceanside, Long Island native said. “That’s very important to me.”
Also important are the long-standing relationships Dr. Arroyo has developed over the years, not only with colleagues but also former patients and their families. The parents and doctor of one boy she treated encouraged her to write about that experience. The article, “Feeding and Speech Development in a Childhood Case of Cystic Hygroma,” appeared in the journal Early Childhood Services in 2010. Cystic hygroma is a birth defect that results in a growth in the head and neck area.
“I specialize in working with kids who have feeding disorders,” Dr. Arroyo said. “The boy had significant feeding and breathing problems. He had fluid-filled cysts in the head and neck that blocked his airways and interfered with his oral functions.”
After a doctor performed a tracheostomy, a procedure that created an opening in the windpipe through which secretions could be removed and air could flow, Dr. Arroyo taught the boy to breathe, feed and speak normally.
“That’s one of the great things about this work,” Dr. Arroyo said. “You make a difference in so many people’s lives, and those people stay in touch with you over the years. I’ve been to three weddings and a couple of bar mitzvahs of people I’ve treated. And every Christmas, my wall is filled with cards from people I’ve treated.”
Former students of Dr. Arroyo who became speech language pathologists themselves also stay in touch with her, often seeking her opinion on challenging cases. That she continues to influence so many people is a major reason Dr. Arroyo’s career has been so rewarding.