Why Students Choose COSD

A Highlander is not afraid to stand up and say 'I can do this'."

Hannah Tuttle '20

Communication Sciences and Disorders major with a minor in Psychology

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Past Student Spotlights:


Joshua Tuggle '21

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.

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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.


Jenna Abrahamsen '21

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Alannah Wilson '24

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. 

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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!”


Kevin Simmons '22

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Bettina Comparativo '21

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.

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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. 


Bethany Davis '22

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Denise Thomas '21

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. 

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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. 


Alexis Ellis '23

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Emily Comper '22

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. 

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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. 


Nivardo Loya Villalobos '22

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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.


Kati Poole '22

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Meghan Stinnette ‘22

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. 

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Madison Davis '23

Madison is a junior, transfer student in the COSD program. As a Waldron College student ambassador, she attends open houses and provides prospective students with information about COSD. Madison intended on being a nursing major, but found Speech-Language Pathology to be the perfect middle ground between therapy, medicine, and advocacy. She is interested in working with adults in a hospital setting and has a special interest in transgender voice modification. As an SLP, Madison wants to aid people in expressing themselves in a way that they feel is right for them and wants to support the mental health of people transitioning. In 5-10 years, Madison plans to be home, helping people in the LGBTQ+ community find their place in her rural community of Russell County, VA.

In her free time, Madison loves to shop, read and be outside. She isn’t much of a hiker, but loves to “just exist outdoors.” Additionally, Madison is an active member of the Women’s Studies Club at RU and a note taker for the Center for Accessibility Services (CAS). 

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Hannah Martin is a 1st year graduate student in the Radford COSD program. She attended Patrick Henry Community College for a year before completing her undergraduate degree in COSD here at Radford. Hannah chose COSD after shadowing a speech-language pathologist (SLP) at an elementary school and seeing how hands on she could be working one-on-one with clients. Hannah has always known she wanted to effect change and improve the quality of life of others. She got to experience this firsthand during her first semester of graduate school with a young client. She said, “helping free him of the stress of not being able to communicate effectively was one of my favorite things.” Hannah also channels her helpful spirit into her experience as a mentor and team leader for the Appalachian Arts and Studies in the Schools program (AASIS). As a leader, it is her responsibility to organize communication and visits between Radford students and local high school students to help them learn about the college experience and what opportunities are available to them after high school graduation. Outside of her busy academic and extracurricular activities, Hannah enjoys spending time with friends and family, watching Netflix, and cleaning!

In the next 5 to 10 years, Hannah plans to remain in Virginia as a school based SLP for young children with disabilities. She is interested in furthering her education and experience with alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) and sensory integration to provide high quality services to her future clients. Hannah is passionate about her future as an SLP and sharing her love for learning with others. 


Hannah Martin '23

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Bri Litton is a senior in the COSD program and member of the honors college. This year, she has been working closely with her faculty mentors, Mrs. Shelor and Mrs. Epperly, on an honors capstone project titled, "Radford University Brain Injury (RUBI) Center Needs Assessment." They are surveying brain injury survivors to determine the need for community programming in the New River and Roanoke Valley. They hope to provide evidence to support the need for the RUBI center and collect data regarding the effects of brain injury in the areas of physical, psychological, social, and daily life functioning. This research is ongoing, and Bri hopes to make a positive impact on brain injury survivors in the new river valley.

From an early age, Bri realized what a significant impact meaningful and functional communication can have on a person. She always knew she wanted to work in a health care setting but loves our field because we can truly help clients to gain confidence and share their ideas and thoughts with those they love. In the next 5 to 10 years, she hopes to be enjoying married life and working in a hospital or outpatient setting with adults experiencing dysphagia or aphasia resulting from brain injury.

In her free time, Bri enjoys hanging out with family, friends, and her puppy Levi. She also enjoys craft projects such as scrap booking, crochet, and Cricut projects.


Bri Litton '22

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Lauren Buenviaje is a first year graduate student in Radford’s COSD program who recently won 3rd place in the poster competition at the Speech-Language-Hearing Association of Virginia’s (SHAV) Annual Conference. Her poster presentation was based on her honor’s capstone project about interprofessional practice (IPP) between school based SLPs and allied health professionals. She worked alongside Dr. Abdelaziz, to research North Carolina SLP’s perception of collaboration and the impact of COVID-19 on IPP in public schools. Lauren commented that she, “had great conversations with SLPs who gave [her] more insight on IPP in the schools and ways [she] could broaden her research.”

As a graduate student, Lauren hopes to continue researching IPP in other settings and is also interested in researching Autism Spectrum Disorder. Lauren finds speech-language pathology fulfilling because “communication is what makes us feel connected to one another.” She wants to help people regain or learn how to communicate with loved ones and feel more connected to the world. This desire to help goes hand in hand without how she found the profession. After losing her grandma to ALS, Lauren began reading about treatment options and found her place in COSD.

In the next 5-10 years, Lauren sees herself happily working as an SLP and is considering getting her PhD as well. Lauren enjoys playing instruments, singing, dancing and hanging out with friends in her free time. 


Lauren Buenviaje '24

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Emily Moore is a first year COSD graduate student at RU and recipient of the 2022 Rita Purcell-Robertson Scholarship from The Communication Disorders Foundation of Virginia. She attended UVA as an undergraduate student where she double majored in Communication Sciences and Disorders and Cognitive Science. Emily had the opportunity to assist in research at the Jaswal Lab during undergrad and intends on completing a thesis while attending RU. She is passionate about advocacy and wants to contribute to the body of research that supports neurodiversity affirming care for nonspeaking people with autism. Emily discovered speech-language pathology accidentally during her undergraduate career but quickly realized that it combined all of her professional interests. She enjoys the clinical aspect of the profession but also the opportunity to influence policy changes for individuals with complex communication needs.

In the next 5-10 years, Emily sees herself working clinically before continuing her education through either a PhD or MBA. In her free time, Emily enjoys playing anything Nintendo, especially Zelda games. She also enjoys keeping her Christmas tree up and decorating it for various seasons/holidays year-round. 


Emily Moore '24

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Kalianna Brooks

Kalianna Brooks '23

Kalianna is a senior in COSD and Radford’s NSSLHA Chapter President for the 2022-2023 school year. She discovered speech-language pathology in high school while researching potential careers and realized it combined her interest in healthcare and education. She has also had the opportunity to see the impact that SLPs can have on their clients, and this continues to encourage her to pursue a career in this field. She is interested in researching aphasia treatments and working in a medical setting with either children or adults. In the next 5-10 years, Kalianna wants to have completed graduate school and work as an SLP helping people regain or develop their communication skills.

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Maegan Burnette, Grace Burke, and Kelsey Patton are COSD seniors completing their honors capstone projects.  Each student had a unique path to Speech-Language Pathology (SLP) and their research interests reflect their individual experiences.

Maegan is working with Dr. Millar to explore freshmen and pre-COSD students’ knowledge of the SLP profession. Her goal is to identify misinformation or confusion surrounding speech-language pathology and educate people on the scope of practice and the variety of opportunities within the field. As a future SLP, Maegan wants to work with children in the NICU or at an elementary school.  In her free time, Maegan enjoys trying new things and experiencing all that life can offer. This summer she got her motorcycle license and has been learning how to ride!

Grace’s capstone, supervised by Dr. Millar and Dr. Lei, focuses on the effect that music has on a person’s ability to learn and understand tonal languages. Tonal languages, like Mandarin Chinese, are languages that use tone changes to reflect different word meanings. She hypothesizes that non-Mandarin-speaking people with musical expertise will acquire the tonal language better than their non-musical counterparts. As a future SLP, Grace wants to provide rehabilitative services to people suffering from traumatic brain injury. In her free time, Grace enjoys reading, listening to music, and attending concerts.

In collaboration with audiologist, Dr. Flora, Kelsey is examining the potential connection between personal listening device (PLD) usage, listening habits, attitudes toward noise exposure, hearing status, and general awareness of noise-induced hearing loss. The long-term goal of this research is to increase public awareness about noise-induced hearing loss and encourage healthier listening habits. As a future SLP, Kelsey wants to work as a traveling SLP and see a variety of clients across the lifespan. In her free time, Kelsey enjoys working out, reading books, listening to music, and creative writing.

Capstone students 2022

Maegan Burnette '23, Grace Burke '23, and Kelsey Patton '23

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Shauna Huguley, Hannah Martin, and Hillary Erp are second year speech-language pathology graduate students and the 2022-2023 recipients of the Scottish Rite Research and Clinical Service Scholarships. Each of them are committed to contributing to the field of speech-language pathology through research and serving their communities here in VA after graduation.

Shauna’s clinical service, supervised by Dr. Millar, seeks to educate families and daycare workers on introducing new foods to children. Her research specifically applies to the eating habits that can be seen in picky eaters or children with autism. Shauna became interested in the field when her cousin was born with hearing loss and received early intervention. She saw the impact the SLP had on not only her cousin, but his parents and wanted to help others in that same way. In her free time, she enjoys playing with her dogs, cooking, shopping, and spending time with her family.

Hannah is working with clinical supervisor, Rachel Greene, to review current research related to self-regulation in children with communication disorders. Additionally, she is using her research to disseminate clinically applicable self-regulation strategies to first year graduate students as they help RUSLHC clients regulate their behavior and emotions during sessions.  As a graduate student, Hannah says it has been rewarding to work with children with autism and their families, but she enjoys gaining experience with patients across the lifespan. In her free time, she enjoys going to concerts, binge-watching TV shows, reading, and spending time with family.

Hillary’s project, also supervised by Dr. Diane Millar, was developed to educate daycare workers on early detection and screening of autism symptoms using the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT). She is also providing daycare workers with tools and strategies to better serve their autistic clients. Hillary changed her career path from respiratory therapy to speech pathology after seeing patients who suffered strokes in the hospital and the impact their SLPs had on their quality of life and well-being. In her free time, Hillary enjoys hanging out with her family, taking her kids to the playground, attending church, and playing tennis with her husband. 

Scottish Rite Recipients 2022-2023

Shauna Huguley '23, Hannah Martin '23, and Hillary Erp '23

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Brianna Collins and Anna French are students within the COSD program and are employed as newborn hearing screeners at Carilion New River Valley Medical Center. Their duties are to screen all newborns before being discharged from the hospital, so that they may receive early interventions, if necessary.

Brianna Collins is a first-year speech-language pathology leveling graduate student who plans to graduate in 2025. Brianna chose to pursue a degree in COSD because she wanted a career that allowed her to make a positive difference in a person’s quality of life. She would like to work with older adults in long-term care or through home health and be part of a team that helps individuals regain their “voice.” What she enjoys most about being a newborn hearing screener is being part of a team that helps families welcome a new bundle of joy into their lives. In her free time, Brianna enjoys spending time with her dog and playing the occasional video game.

Anna French is a junior in the COSD program, who will be receiving her bachelor’s degree in 2024. Previously a Deaf Education major, Anna always had an interest in ASL and the deaf community because of a relative who is deaf and uses a cochlear implant. Anna attended an information session for the COSD major and decided to switch tracks. Along with administration of the hearing screenings, Anna schedules outpatient appointments, helps with referrals to audiologists, uses electronic and paper charting systems, and processes the billing. Anna enjoys being a newborn hearing screener because it allows her to gain relevant experience before beginning the grad school process and solidifies her love for Audiology. In the next 5-10 years, Anna sees herself being Dr. French, practicing audiology in a small city. 

COSD Students Anna French and Brianna Collins

Anna French '24 and Brianna Collins '25

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