Cindy Wheeler Sutton, speech-language pathologist at the Huntsman Cancer Institute, a 2004 graduate of the Department of Communication Disorders, gave the 2014 McKay School of Education honored alumna lecture. Sutton’s topic, “The Power of Communication,” focused on the influence of voices on our personal lives and on society.
She reminded her audience to be grateful to have a voice—not to take it for granted. She said, “Our communication has the power to calm fears, erase loneliness, ease pain, and build bridges. We unite together as we communicate.”
Sutton is a therapy supervisor and lead speech language pathologist at the University of Utah hospital, where she oversees a team of physical, occupational, and speech therapists. She helps patients with communication impediments learn, and in some cases relearn, how to talk, eat, and swallow.
Sutton focuses on developing three characteristics necessary in her profession: (1) a strong science background, (2) the ability to solve problems, and (3) patience. As she applies these skills she takes on the role of counselor and educator.
“In the end,” she said, “we help people overcome their amazing challenges; we can essentially become their guardian angels.”
A particular concern that Sutton has with communication problems is in our social environment. Things like bullying, gossiping, tearing down others, obsessing over social media, and texting constantly fuel her fears. “If you lost your voice today, what would be the last meaningful conversation you had with someone? What effect do your words have on others?”