October 9, 2020 | Originally Published September 18, 2020 | Erin Bluvas
Blythe Vickery discovered communication sciences and disorders (COMD) during her junior year at UofSC. She was already committed to completing her degree as an education major, but she had just enough time left in her undergraduate tenure to complete the next steps toward pursuing a career in the field.
The shift began when Vickery saw an advertisement for an undergraduate research assistant in the COMD department’s Speech Perception Laboratory, led by then-faculty member Dan Fogerty. With her mentor’s support, she was awarded funding for the position through an Exploration Research Grant from the South Carolina Honors College and began observing and speaking with the department’s Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology students.
“I immediately fell in love with speech-language pathology as a result and ended up tailoring my undergraduate degree so that I could fulfill all the necessary prerequisites to start Carolina’s program directly after graduation,” Vickery says. “It offered me the opportunity to satiate my curiosity and to help the hearing-impaired through a specialization in auditory verbal therapy and cochlear implants as well as participate in the supportive and innovative learning environment I had observed as an undergraduate.”
A Columbia native herself, Vickery is committed to increasing access to auditory verbal therapy in South Carolina and plans to pursue a Listening and Spoken Language Specialist certification after her 2021 graduation. After gaining clinical experience, she plans to pursue a Ph.D. to continue studying populations with hearing loss.
In support of these goals, Vickery recently received a 2020 Students Preparing for Academic-Research Careers (SPARC) Award from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). She will use the award’s stipend to travel to one of ASHA’s annual conferences and present some of the precision audiology research she contributed to in the Speech Perception Lab.
“I am incredibly blessed to join the list of over 187 previous recipients of the SPARC Award,” Vickery says. “While I hope to use this award to jumpstart my future academic research career, I most importantly hope to be a positive reflection on my program and the greater university.”