Recent Georgia Southern graduate named ‘Volunteer of the Year’
Soon after graduating, a Georgia Southern University graduate is receiving attention for her expertise and is being recognized for making an impact in her community.
“I’ve always been called ‘the mom’ of the group of my friends,” said Ashley Rutland, a recent Georgia Southern alumna. “I’m always the one taking care of everyone. I feel like it’s just what’s inside me. I grew up helping others, so why not do it for everyone?”
Rutland is from Lilburn, Georgia, and graduated summa cum laude this year with a Bachelor of Science degree in communication sciences and disorders. The Armstrong Campus graduate will begin her degree for a Master of Education in the speech-language pathology program at the University of West Georgia this summer. She hopes to practice pediatric speech therapy, specializing in traumatic brain injury rehabilitation.
During her time as a student, the impact of her efforts was felt on and off-campus. She is a regular contributor to the Savannah Speech & Hearing Center, and also served as the vice president of the Georgia Southern chapter of the National Student Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
Rutland has always had the drive to make close connections with those who have disorders related to communication. Her younger sister has Down syndrome, and that spurred her passion to communicate and connect with those with special needs.
Rutland began volunteering with the Savannah Speech & Hearing Center in January of 2021. She committed more than 90 hours helping with community hearing screenings, fundraising, administrative duties, and scheduling other Georgia Southern volunteers.
This noble work earned Rutland the 2021-2022 Annie F. Oliver Volunteer of the Year award by the Savannah Speech & Hearing Center.
She assisted at Sound Start, the Center’s early intervention auditory/verbal program for children who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing, as well as the Speak Easy, which is a support group for survivors of stroke or traumatic brain injury.
This annual volunteer award started in 1978 to celebrate extraordinary dedication and service supporting the mission of Savannah Speech & Hearing Center in providing access to comprehensive speech, hearing, language and other therapeutic services that empower and transform lives.