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Arnold School of Public Health

Public health graduate inspired to become speech-language pathologist after conducting research in communication sciences and disorders department

May 17, 2019 | Erin Bluvas,

Briemma Wilson has always been interested in helping people. Ever since she was a kid growing up in Blythewood, South Carolina, she tried to put herself in others’ shoes. Her strong sense of empathy naturally made her curious about the health care field.

“This curiosity was additionally sparked by witnessing a family member who was always in the hospital for chronic diseases,” Wilson says. “As I got older, public health became the obvious choice for me when I learned that these chronic conditions that continue to plague families like mine are a public health area of focus.” 

At South Carolina, Wilson interned in the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office and served as a resident mentor, providing guidance to other students and helping to prepare them and the building when there were warnings for public health risks such as floods. Within the Arnold School, she found a mentor in her advisor, clinical assistant professor Kara Montgomery

“Dr. Montgomery has helped guide me and has always been there whenever I needed her assistance,” Wilson says. “She has just shown me what a super nice and efficient person looks like.”

Through her program, the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority member learned about the many areas of public health, including communication sciences and disorders – a field that facilitates access to education, employment, health care services, and many other factors that impact health. She delved much further into the field than the average undergraduate student by serving as a research assistant in the Department of Communication Sciences and DisordersSpeech Perception Laboratory.

Directed by associate professor Daniel Fogerty, research in this laboratory seeks to enhance speech understanding in complex and adverse listening conditions, such as having a conversation in a noisy restaurant. In this context, she also worked along doctoral student Rachel Miller.

“I have looked up to Dr. Fogerty and Rachel as mentors, and they have helped me along the way,” says Wilson, whose experience in the lab solidified her decision to pursue a career as a speech-language pathologist. “With their guidance, I have improved my academic writing as it relates to communication sciences and disorders.”

This fall, Wilson will join the department’s Master of Speech Pathology program. Later in her career, she’d like to work in health care management of hospital administration.

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