Waldron College of Health and Human Services
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Why Students Choose COSD
A Highlander is not afraid to stand up and say 'I can do this'."
Past Student Spotlights:
Joshua is a senior in the COSD program and was elected our NSSLHA Chapter President for the 2020-2021 year. He became interested in COSD because it was the perfect mixture between becoming a teacher and working in the medical field. Joshua is passionate about working with kids and would like to learn how his role as a SLP could help kids expand their literacy skills. He loves socializing and collaborating with others and would like to put his strengths towards helping children communicate for the first time. During his free time, he likes to spend time with his friends and watch supernatural shows. Joshua sees himself working in a school or private practice in the next 5 years and potentially pursuing a Ph.D. program afterwards.
Jenna is 2nd year graduate student. She received speech therapy services in elementary school and her experience drove her to pursue a career in speech-language pathology. Jenna wants to work with adults and is interested in adult neurogenic communication disorders. She knows firsthand how much of an emotional toll certain experiences can have after speaking with a stroke survivor. She loves the profession because while she helps others communicate, she also gets to build up their confidence while helping them grow in other abilities. In her free time, she enjoys running, playing the violin, spending time with her family, and ending the day with ice cream and an episode of The Office. Jenna sees herself working with adults in a long-term care facility or an inpatient rehab setting within the next 5 years.
Alannah is a freshman Pre-COSD major. She chose COSD because she had been exposed to speech-language pathology since a young age. She received speech services as a child and her mother works as a physical therapy assistant. People, especially those with disabilities, have a special place in Alannah’s heart and she wants to make people’s lives better. She enjoys working with both children and senior citizens and sees herself working either in a special education classroom or in a group home for adults. She belives a career in speech-language pathology would be fulfilling because she describes herself as a people person who wants to make an impact on her patients. Alannah has a genetic disorder called Classic Galactosemia. This condition causes difficulty with digesting dairy but can affect patients in other ways. Her twin sister also has Classic Galactosemia and her family noticed how Alannah has a softer and breathier voice while her twin sister has a louder voice. She therefore wants to research whether Classic Galactosemia plays a role in these vocal differences and whether the condition can affect other speech patterns. She likes to hang out with her friends and family, play with her service dog Mimi, and write and sing her own songs. In the next 5-10 years, Alannah sees herself finishing up undergrad and attending Radford for graduate school where she can eventually find a good job and change people’s lives for the better.
Kevin is a first-year graduate student in COSD. When asked what drove him to choose a career in speech-language pathology, he said: “My grandfather, Dr. Otis Simmons is one of my heroes. I loved listening to his stories because they were all filled with wisdom and he always quoted famous philosophers. I remember one of his favorite quotes was: "Find a job you love, and you'll never work a day in your life." – Confucius. A career in speech-language pathology allows me to do what I love (listen and share stories with others). It was God's provision in my life and my grandfather's values that were instilled in me that were driving forces to choose a career in speech language pathology. We're in a field of work where we can make a huge impact in an individual's life as well as their family. That right there is so rewarding to me.” He sees himself working in the school setting with the pediatric population and he is interested in fluency research. In his free time, he likes to listen to Justin Bieber, draw, and eat great food. In the next 5-10 years, he sees himself opening a private practice, The Singing SLP, and partnering with ASHA to foster the recruitment of people of color for speech-language pathology.
COSD Professor Dr. Diane Millar had this to say about Kevin: “The world is a better place because of individuals like Kevin. He’s gracious, generous, thoughtful, and compassionate. Every day, I see the people around him change because of his positivity, and whenever anyone mentions him by name, their smile gets a little bigger and their voice a little softer. Thank you, Kevin, for all that you do and all that you inspire!”
Bettina is a senior in COSD and a Waldron College Student Ambassador. When asked what drove her to pursue a career in speech-language pathology, she said she chose it because: “SLPs train to treat across the entire lifespan. In addition to having a variety of work settings, being an SLP enables us to work with a diverse client, be creative to keep therapy interesting, and most importantly make a lasting impact in their lives.” She sees herself working in a medical setting (rehabilitation center, skilled nursing facility, or hospital) and potentially opening her own practice in the future. Through her work as a caregiver at a long-term care facility, she has developed a passion for the geriatric population. Alzheimer's disease research has always been an interest of hers as she works with individuals with Alzheimer's disease and knows first-hand how awful it is.
When she has free time, she likes to give back to the community. Bettina learned how to coupon so that she can stretch her money further and be able to donate the products (toiletries, food, and more) to various shelters and rehabilitation facilities. It gives her joy to be able to help others.
Bethany is currently a junior in the COSD program at Radford. She chose to study COSD because it is a diverse field that will provide her the tools to help patients effectively communicate. Bethany enjoys the fact that she can specialize in several areas with the ability to work in many settings. She is interested in working with pediatrics at a clinic or school setting to provide children the essential skill of communicating which would impact the rest of their lives. She feels that someone being confident in their voice and helping a child say their first word or helping a stroke survivor eat a first meal is the most fulfilling aspect of becoming an SLP. When asked about her areas of research interest Bethany shared that she is a singer and vocal performance minor and is therefore interested in exploring the field of vocology. She would like to learn about how voice disorders impact the singing voice and would like to find a way to incorporate her minor within the field of Speech-Language Pathology. She’s further interested in finding the relationship between articulation and acoustics to understand the aspects of vocal tract shaping during speech. During her free time Bethany enjoys spending time with family, friends, singing, reading, watching Netflix, and attending bible study. In the next 5-10 years she sees herself becoming a practicing SLP, but is still deciding which setting to practice in. She looks forward to exploring her options and is thankful for her professors at Radford for helping guide her in her future endeavors.
Denise is a second-year graduate student in the COSD department. Denise was driven to study speech-language pathology as it proved to be the perfect intersection between her interests of language, cognition, and therapeutic services. She is currently interested in working with the pediatric population in a public-school setting. She finds the field fulfilling because she can watch patients grasp new concepts, become more communicatively independent, and know that she was part of their lifechanging process. Her research interests include studying AAC devices where she would like to research intervention techniques and available AAC technology options to provide the most effective evidence-based practice for her clients. During her free time, Denise enjoys being outdoors as much as she can and doing activities such as hiking, fishing, and camping. She additionally enjoys spending time with her two dogs and two cats. In the next 5-10 years Denise would like to continue to serve her community in either a school or outpatient clinic setting. As she gains experience, she would also like to assist graduate clinicians and new SLPs with developing their knowledge in the field. Denise credits her supervisors for helping her build the strong foundation of her clinical knowledge and skills during grad school and she would like to pay the service forward to future clinicians.
Alexis is a sophomore in the COSD program. Her SLP journey began when she cared for a girl with a cleft lip and watched her develop with help from her SLP. Alexis stated that she has always been drawn to helping children. Additionally, her grandfather has dementia which makes the field even closer to her heart. When asked about the most fulfilling thing about a career in speech-language pathology, Alexis stated that it will be fulfilling to help children get through their difficult phases and leave a lasting positive impact in their lives. During her free time, Alexis likes to play and coach volleyball. She additionally loves being outside, fishing, hiking, kayaking, and going to the beach. In the next 5-10 years, Alexis looks forward to working as an SLP in a school system near home and coaching volleyball on the side.
Emily is currently a 1st year graduate student. Emily finds speech-language pathology a fulfilling career as it allows her to instill a sense of independence and confidence in others. In her clinical experience she found it rewarding watching the faces of her clients light up when she informed them that they met a goal. Empowering clients to have a voice and aiding them to become the most confident communicators they can be is the most fulfilling aspect of speech-language pathology to Emily. Emily graduated from Virginia Tech in 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in Human Development and minors in Linguistics and Psychology. Emily’s dedication to the field led her to becoming a co-founder of the Speech-Language Pathology Club at Virginia Tech. During her first year of graduate school at RU she accepted a graduate assistantship position in the College of Visual and Performing Arts. During her free time, Emily enjoys hiking on the weekends and hanging out with her friends in Radford. She described a love for shopping, working out, and traveling. She loves experiencing new places and meeting new people. In the next 5-10 years, Emily hopes to be enjoying her career as an SLP in the Raleigh, North Carolina area.
Nivardo is a rising 2nd year graduate student in the communication sciences and disorders (COSD) master’s program. He grew up in Rappahannock County, Virginia and received his bachelor’s degree in COSD from the University of Virginia. Nivardo is the 2021 recipient of the James E. Nicely Scholarship for Graduate Studies in Communication Sciences and Disorders. Dr. James E. Nicely is a Professor Emeritus of Communications Sciences and Disorders and when notified Nivardo was this year's recipient he said:
“Congratulations and best wishes to Nivardo being named this year’s recipient of my scholarship. It was established in 2018 to assist COSD graduate students in their educational and research endeavors. I am delighted to know that another person will soon be making contributions to the field of speech pathology and that my scholarship played a minor role. “
After graduation, Nivardo hopes to work in a medical setting and is interested in working with individuals with traumatic brain injury, aphasia, dysphagia, and neurocognitive disorders. He feels the most fulfilling thing about a career in speech-language pathology is working with clients and making their day better by making them laugh or smile. He is also interested in vocal paralysis research and would like to research this area further as a clinician. In his free time, Nivardo likes to workout at the gym and learn about investing and business pursuits. In the next 5-10 years he sees himself working in a hospital and possibly starting a private practice in northern Virginia.
Kati is a senior in the COSD undergraduate program. She chose to pursue a career as an SLP because it’s the perfect mixture of her affinity for language arts and her desire to help people. As an SLP, Kati wants to work with children in a private practice or school setting. She feels that she connects well with children and wants to give them the tools to express themselves and feel confident, comfortable, and valued while doing so. Kati is also interested in exploring the social language differences in individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and working to provide well-informed services to children with ASD. In the next 5 to 10 years, she hopes to be providing these services to children in the Southwest Virginia area.
In her free time, you can find Kati spending time with her friends and family, exploring the outdoors through hikes and bike rides, or watching a variety of new TV shows.
Meghan is a senior in the COSD program and Radford’s NSSLHA Chapter President for the 2021-22 school year. She is also currently researching the effects of body language on communicative competence alongside Dr. Millar. She is interested in how people outside of COSD view different aspects of communication. Meghan chose COSD because she wants to connect with people and help them feel more confident. She is passionate about the depth of knowledge SLPs have of the human body and its seemingly simple, everyday functions like breathing. Meghan is interested in working with children, whether that’s in a medical setting or as a school-based SLP. Although she isn’t sure about the setting, Meghan sees herself as a practicing SLP making a difference in someone’s day in the next 5-10 years.
As a de-stressor during the week, Meghan spends time with her friends and goes to work out classes at the gym. On the weekends, you can find her at church or with friends. They often look for fun, adventurous new places to hike in the area.
Past Faculty Spotlights:
Amy Hammond has worked as an adjunct clinical supervisor in the COSD program for 7 years. She attended the University of Tennessee for her undergraduate career and graduated with her M.S. in 2002 from Western Kentucky University. She first worked with children and adults at a private practice that had contracts with hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and home health agencies. She later worked with children in an outpatient setting and eventually found herself working for Pulaski County Schools. Working in the school system was one of the best decisions she ever made where she had the opportunity to treat and diagnose children of all ages. She enjoys seeing the “lightbulb” moment that kids have when they get something right for the first time and finds it rewarding when kids are having fun in speech therapy without realizing that they’re working towards a goal. In our clinic, Amy knows how nervous grad students can be when working with patients and strives to help them feel comfortable and confident in their learning process. During her free time, Amy loves reading, traveling, painting, and being with family and friends.
Current 2nd year Sara Bobbitt is currently working with Ms. Hammond in the field and she had this to say: “Ms. Hammond has been an amazing clinical supervisor. I have learned so much from her! She is always available to answer questions and has a super go with the flow attitude. She has worked so hard through this COVID craziness to help me feel competent and get my clock hours.”
Dr. Abdelaziz went to the University of North Carolina at Greensboro for her bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. She worked as a bilingual, school-based SLP for 6 years with students from pre-K to 8th grade. Middle school is her favorite age-range to treat. She also worked in early intervention for a few summers after completing her clinical fellowship.
She is a new faculty member in COSD and said she was “excited about coming to Radford for a few reasons. The biggest reason (and why I would recommend our COSD program to anyone) is because of the sense of community within the department, especially between the faculty and students!” When asked what she enjoys the most about being a SLP, she said: “The relationships I make with my clients and their families is so meaningful to me. I still keep up with some of my old clients and their families in North Carolina!”
In her free time, she likes to spend time with her family watching movies, playing board games, and trying out new gluten-free recipes!
Rebecca Epperly is the current clinical director for the COSD program. She graduated from Radford with a degree in recreational therapy in 1995. She worked in rehab for a few years and received her master’s in COSD from East Tennessee State University in 2000. Rebecca has extensive experience working with traumatic brain injury (TBI) survivors in both inpatient and outpatient settings. She additionally gained experience working in early intervention and in schools. Before coming to Radford, Rebecca previously worked at UVA children’s hospital treating children with TBIs. When asked with she enjoys the most about being a speech-language pathologist, Rebecca stated that the most fulfilling part is being able to improve someone’s quality of life through communication, swallowing, and cognition. In her free time, Rebecca enjoys backpacking, hiking, gardening, knitting and sewing. However, her favorite time is spent with her family and two children. She enjoys supporting her children at their school-sponsored events.
Dr. Lenhart is an instructor in the COSD department. She graduated with her bachelor’s degree from UVA in 2012 and received her master’s degree from JMU in 2015. She will receive her PhD from JMU in May 2021. She has experience in many settings and populations such as: skilled nursing, preschool, school-age, and young adults. She has worked with patients who have had multiple disabilities, cerebral palsy, seizure disorders, speech sound disorders, emotional behavioral disorders, and developmental language disorders. When asked about the thing that she finds the most fulfilling about being an SLP, Dr. Lenhart stated that she enjoys being in a helping profession where she feels like she makes a positive impact on someone at the end of the day. She also finds the variety of potential settings and medical conditions to work with as a major plus. She enjoys watching sports, spending time with her son, and watching tv shows such as Survivor. She additionally plays fantasy sports and enjoyed attending sporting events before COVID-19.
Kelsey Campbell is a Radford University graduate who will be returning to the COSD department this summer as an adjunct clinical educator. She graduated with her bachelor’s degree from Longwood University and her master’s degree from Radford in 2017. Kelsey has gained experience working in various settings such as schools and outpatient clinics. Although Kelsey has experience treating adults and children, the bulk of her treatment has focused on pediatrics. AAC has become one of her favorite areas to work on as many of her clients use or are being evaluated as AAC candidates. When asked about what she enjoys the most about being an SLP, Kelsey stated that she enjoys seeing the impact that therapy has on clients. Kelsey believes that communication holds great power and that every person deserves the gift of being able to communicate. During her free time Kelsey enjoys spending time with her husband and traveling on weekend and week-long getaways. One of her favorite places to visit has been Jamaica. She describes herself and her husband as “beach people” and they look forward to the summertime and spending time at the beach.
Amy Kageals received her associate’s degree from Virginia Western Community College. She studied communication sciences and disorders at James Madison University (bachelor’s degree) and earned her master’s degree from Radford University in 2000. She recently earned a Doctorate of Health Sciences with a concentration in healthcare leadership through Radford University Carilion (2020). She has worked as an SLP in many settings including the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), pediatric intensive care unit (PICU), pediatric floor, early intervention, outpatient, radiology, craniofacial clinic, feeding clinic, and well born nursery. She has a specialty in pediatric dysphagia and was asked to co-teach the graduate dysphagia course with Terri Shelor in the Spring 2021 semester. Amy said she loved working one on one with the students during their final oral exam and looks forward to engaging with students more in-person in the future. She is currently a director at Carilion Children’s supporting the pediatric primary care sites, the child development clinic, the pediatric behavioral health department, ambulatory social workers, and the pediatric inpatient and outpatient therapy teams. She is an advocate for student learning. She has had many students shadow her in the NICU and has supported student externships within her leadership role at Carilion Children’s. She also is an instructor at Virginia Tech Carilion and supports medical students/residents and provides lectures. She has a fabulous husband, 2 kids (14-year-old daughter and an 11-year-old son) and 3 dogs. In her free time, she loves Zumba and outdoor activities.
Dr. Chia-Ming (Abel) Lei received his bachelor's degree in Foreign Languages and Literature from the National Taiwan University in Taipei, Taiwan. From there he moved to the United States and received his master’s degree at the MGH Institute of Health Professions in Boston, MA. He lived in Boston for 7 years and worked as an SLP in a skilled nursing facility (SNF) with an additional transit care unit for sub-acute rehabilitation. Later, while pursuing his doctorate at the University of Pittsburgh for (another) 7 years, he worked as a per diem SLP in a SNF, equipped with a memory care unit. Most recently, Dr. Lei worked as a research coordinator at Baylor College of Medicine on projects investigating patients’ language during the acute onset of strokes. Dr. Lei has been accumulating experience and knowledge clinically in the area of acquired neurogenic communication disorders, and research wise in the field of hemispheric specialties in language processing. When asked what he enjoys most about being an SLP, he said he values seeing his clients and building connections. He also values being able to support clients through difficult and frustrating times in their lives. He is proud of this career which applies science to bridge communication gaps.
Dr. Lei is new to COSD faculty and to education. However, he has always been planning to become an educator which was the main push for him to pursue his Ph.D. He appreciates that Radford is giving him the opportunity to fulfill this goal. Dr. Lei said he chose Radford because in addition to the beautiful scenery, our program is complete and comprehensive with the undergraduate, graduate (including routes for either master of arts or science), and leveling programs for those without an undergraduate SLP background. On top of that, Radford has an on-campus clinic providing SLP services to the community and learning environment for the students.
In his free time, he enjoys running, yoga, growing orchids, and is picking up meditation. He is also excited to experience more of the outdoor activities the NRV has to offer.
Past Alumni Spotlights:
Shannon is a Radford University alum who graduated with her Master's, in COSD, in 2014. Before coming to Radford, she completed her undergrad at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has been an SLP for 6 years and is the owner of Speechy Musings. Speechy Musings is a blog and store tailored to helping SLPs be effective clinicians and provides insight for growth in their career. Shannon has had the opportunity to work in a variety of settings throughout her career and she loves the variety. She first worked in a multidisciplinary outpatient clinic and then transitioned into a school setting. She worked with elementary and preschoolers and eventually saw herself working with middle school students. She currently works per diem at a variety of pediatric settings. She enjoys being an SLP because she loves the children she’s been able to work with and enjoys the fast-paced nature of the job. She never finds herself bored and feels like there is always more to learn to continue growing as a professional. In her free time Shannon enjoys being outside and traveling. She hikes several times a week and uses every opportunity she can to travel somewhere new.
Ashley is a Radford University alum having graduated from James Madison University as an undergrad in 2008 and RU as a graduate student in 2010. She has worked as an SLP for the previous 10 years in a variety of settings such as: schools, acute care, outpatient rehab, home health care, assisted living, and skilled nursing. Despite having experience in working with children, Ashley exclusively works with adults currently. Earlier in her career, she worked as a traveling SLP throughout Virginia and North Carolina and has worked as a PRN SLP for the last 6 years. The experience of working PRN in various SNFs and rehab companies allowed her to grow her clinical skills and career. She loves working PRN because it not only allows her to work with various patients in many settings but because it also allows her to provide work relief to her coworkers and help mitigate SLP burnout. It also helps that it gives her the flexibility of creating her own schedule. She enjoys being able to explain to her patients that she works as a “substitute” SLP when her co-workers require time off. When Ashley isn’t traveling for her job she enjoys relaxing at home, listening to audiobooks, painting, and playing with her dog. She loves traveling to new places and enjoying new experiences with her husband which she hopes to resume after COVID.
Teresa Brookman attended RU for both undergrad (Class of ‘87) and graduate school (Class of ‘88). Teresa began her time at RU as a nursing major and considered teaching but decided to switch majors after learning about COSD and the variety of work settings within the field. Teresa recently received the 2021 Teacher of the Year Award for Pulaski County schools where she was an SLP for 33 years. For 32 of those 33 years, Teresa was an externship supervisor for the RU COSD program. She began supervising immediately after her clinical fellowship year and enjoyed learning alongside current COSD students, while also persuading them to become SLPs in the public-school system. During this time, she worked with elementary through high school students and as needed with children at an outpatient clinic during school breaks. Teresa recently retired from the school setting to pursue a job as an SLP with an allied health agency. She is currently navigating telehealth with children and looking forward to traveling while continuing remote work.
As an SLP, Teresa has loved helping children communicate. She emphasized how SLPs are a gateway to opening communication between children and their families. Teresa also said that it almost brings tears to her eyes to think about how thankful parents are to hear their children say “mama” for the first time. She loves seeing kids make progress and being a part of that process. She is appreciative of Radford and the COSD program for preparing her for her career and wants graduate students to stick with it and remember that they have the opportunity to touch a lot of lives through this profession.