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2010 Outstanding Adjunct Award: Carney Sotto

The College of Allied Health's Director of First Year Experience has excelled by never forgetting her mother's advice to "always give back."

Date: 5/4/2010 12:00:00 AM
By: Katy Cosse
Phone: (513) 558-0207
Photos By: Dottie Stover

UC ingot   Carney Sotto, PhD, is a big believer in giving back.

While giving her time, knowledge and experience to her students and colleagues, the Communications Sciences and Disorders (CSD) adjust assistant professor remembers this lesson from her mother: “No matter what you have, there’s always something you can give back to someone who has less than you.”
Carney Sotto
Carney Sotto

Sotto, who came to the College of Allied Health Sciences in 1998, lives that message in every aspect of her work at UC. She not only teaches a full class load, but is accessible and approachable to her students, mentoring graduate research and advising students’ campus and professional organizations. With her fellow faculty, she works to develop new courses, advance the curriculum and reach out to alumni to continue the college’s mission.

“Dr. Sotto is an extremely dedicated and motivated faculty member,” says Allied Health Sciences Dean Elizabeth King, PhD. “She works well with students, faculty and staff to create a collaborative environment that fosters an extremely supportive environment for students.”

As director of CSD’s college’s undergraduate program and the College’s First Year Experience (FYE), Sotto has a direct role in shaping the environment for new students in Allied Health Sciences.

“With FYE, you’re laying the foundation for students’ college career,” says Sotto. “I want them to feel that, even though they’re at a large university, they have a community in the college and they feel comfortable with the faculty. That’s what we try to convey in the FYE—students are at the center.”

“Under Carney’s direction, the FYE has flourished,” says Jo-Anne Prendeville, Communications Sciences and Disorders associate professor. “The courses have become focused, organized and centered on the specific needs of students entering the university for the first time. She makes sure that all students enrolled in these courses receive quality content.”

She also makes sure that all Allied Health students remain on track through their college career. It’s not unusual for students in and outside her department to be at her door, stopping by for advice, assistance or just to chat.

“Dr. Sotto makes the additional effort to know about each of her students,” says former student Shyla Miller, who says Sotto “saw the potential in me even when I did not.”
Carney Sotto

Through Sotto’s encouragement, Miller ran for a leadership role in UC’s chapter of the National Student Speech-Language Hearing Association (NSSLHA) and later took an adjunct instructor position with the department.

Sotto’s work as chapter faculty advisor for NSSLHA has given her another means to encourage student growth.

With her guidance, the chapter has become one of the most active chapters nationally and on campus, organizing an annual student/faculty banquet, fundraising for local charities and attending state and national conferences. In 2003, Sotto was selected as the NSSLHA National Advisor of the Year.

Students say that without her leadership, the work wouldn’t have been possible. But from Sotto’s perspective, she’s just enabling her students to find their own ability to lead.

“I feel like every student has something to offer,” she says. “In advising and mentoring, you need to let students know that they have strengths and something to give. I try to help them understand that they have something to offer in whatever profession they decide to go into.”

Sotto brings the same energy to organizing outside the classroom. She recently brought 35 alumni together for a “Speed Dating for a Career” event with current students. Each year, she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses for the department’s distance learning programs in Ohio, New York and Israel. She says the programs help expand the field of speech language pathology, allowing her to reach non-traditional students who might not otherwise have access to graduate level training.

“Being able to teach these students in areas where there are shortages of SLPs, where children aren’t getting services right now, is phenomenal. I feel like I’m touching another student that I’ve never met – one who I might have never met except for these distance learning classes,” says Sotto.

It’s classes like those, she says, that keep her growing as a teacher, not just her years of academic or professional development.

“When you’re getting your PhD or becoming a professor, you’re taught a great deal about research and service, but not as much about teaching,” says Sotto. “It takes a lot of real-world experience. Being able to give the time to undergrad students, particularly because they are our future, is so important. I love my students. I think I have the best job in the world!”