December 13, 2019 | Erin Bluvas, firstname.lastname@example.org
After growing up in South Georgia, Lauren Sudduth attended the University of Georgia for her bachelor’s degree. While studying English and Linguistics, she discovered the vocation of speech language pathology.
“I loved studying those fields as an undergraduate, and looking ahead, I knew I wanted to incorporate that knowledge base,” Sudduth says. “I fell in love with the field of speech pathology because, as a field, it marries the disciplines I find so intellectually engaging with the ability to help improve people’s quality of life. It is an incredible field of study and work, with immense breadth and depth.”
When researching graduate programs, UofSC’s Master of Speech Pathology (recently renamed Master’s of Science – Residential in Speech-Language Pathology) option quickly rose to the top of her list. Offered by the Arnold School’s Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders (COMD) in close partnership with the department’s Montgomery Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic (previously known as the USC Speech and Hearing Research Center), the program’s multidisciplinary approach, clinical opportunities and proximity to family appealed to Sudduth.
Working with the entire clinical faculty in the COMD department played a huge role in helping to shape my understanding of the type of clinician I want to be.
-Lauren Sudduth, Master of Speech Pathology graduate
During her tenure at the Arnold School, Sudduth gained research experience working alongside COMD associate professor Dan Fogerty in his Speech Perception Lab. The lab works to define how the basic properties of speech contribute to speech understanding under a variety of complex and adverse listening conditions.
“The opportunity to work in this lab as a part of the research component of my degree cultivated an appreciation and a new level of enjoyment for conducting research,” Sudduth says. “As someone who has always enjoyed learning and asking questions, the focus on research and ability to actively take part in conducting research was an exciting opportunity to dig into underlying questions about the how and why of rehabilitating communication disorders.”
Sudduth also engaged in service work, chairing the fundraising committee for UofSC’s chapter of the National Student Speech-Language-Hearing Association to raise support for the Montgomery Clinic’s Angel Fund. Perhaps the biggest impact on her preparation to become a speech-language pathologist took place during her clinical rotations – particularly the influence of learning from so many mentors and the adaptability that she realized was a key to identifying successful treatment options.
“Working with the entire clinical faculty in the COMD department played a huge role in helping to shape my understanding of the type of clinician I want to be,” Sudduth says. “The benefits of being able to learn from each of them, seeing different styles of therapy and different areas of focus, helped me form an idea of the kind of therapist I would like to be.”
Outside the program, Sudduth grew to love the Columbia area and decided to stay in the Midlands after her August graduation, which she celebrated with a nearly perfect GPA and her department’s Outstanding Master of Speech Language Pathology Student of the Year Award. Upon earning her Certificate of Clinical Competence, she plans to pursue a career helping individuals and families affected by communication and swallowing disorders. In the future, she may consider returning to school to earn a Ph.D. in the field.