Communication Sciences and Disorders student accepted into national undergraduate research program

October 5, 2023

Katie Young, ’24, M.S. ’25, will present her work at the annual American Speech-Language-Hearing Association National Convention later this fall. 

A childhood experience inspired Katie Young, ’24, M.S. ’25, to pursue the field of communication sciences and disorders.  

The Explorer from Lewes, Del., saw a speech therapist as a child for stuttering. As her childhood stuttering resolved and she became confident onstage as a high school theater student, she was inspired to help others.  

“I wanted to give back to the community that gave me back my voice,” she said.  

Young’s most recent research work led to her acceptance into the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) PROmoting the next GENeration of Researchers (PROGENY) program. She was recognized as one of the top 10 who receive the highest scores from the Convention Program Committee. 

An early visit to La Salle confirmed its communication sciences and disorders program was the right place for Young. She remembers speaking with a student at an open house who shared how the faculty were readily available to answer questions and act as mentors. Young is having the same experience with faculty and feels that they’re not here to teach, but to make sure their students learn. 

“The faculty continue to encourage that I thrive and that I have opportunities. So, I continue to do so,” she said.    

Her La Salle education gave her the tools to not only understand the curriculum concepts but to work in a clinical setting and participate in faculty-supervised undergraduate research. 

“I’m really taking everything I’ve learned over the past three years, and I’m acting on it,” she said.  

The faculty continue to encourage that I thrive and that I have opportunities. So, I continue to do so.

Katie Young, ’24, M.S. ’25

Assistant Professor and Chair of the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders Ryan Husak, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, has been Young’s faculty supervisor since her freshman year at La Salle. Young assisted Husak with various research projects as a part of his team. When she began to work on her own research, Young said Husak has been helpful in pushing her to build upon her work.  

“He’s been very guiding with next steps,” she said of Husak.  

The research that garnered Young’s acceptance into the PROGENY program focuses on patients with aphasia, a language disorder that affects a person’s ability to communicate. This disorder can occur following a stroke, head injury, brain tumor, or disease. 

According to Young, patients with aphasia admitted to medical centers face challenges accessing healthcare information and participating in critical conversations about their care, discharge desires, and other wants and needs. Young reported that nurses are among the healthcare professionals who communicate most often with patients with aphasia in medical centers. 

In the study, 37 participants from an undergraduate senior nursing class were assessed on their knowledge of aphasia and supportive communication strategies. The Aphasia Attitudes, Strategies, and Knowledge (AASK) survey was administered digitally to assess participants’ readiness to serve patients with aphasia. 

The findings of Young’s research support the need for developing opportunities for collaborative learning experiences between speech-language pathology and nursing students. 

She will present her research at the ASHA convention in November in Boston. As a part of the PROGENY program, she will get to work with a faculty mentor at the conference who will provide mentorship and act as a networking contact as she continues in her educational and professional career. 

“Katie is far ahead of the curve,” Husak said. “She is conducting research at a level that most students in our discipline do not do until they are in a doctoral program. Katie has a bright future ahead of her. She is enthusiastic about learning and has an exceptional ‘can-do’ attitude. It is exciting that the ASHA Program Convention Committee recognized the quality and ingenuity of Katie’s research by accepting her into this year’s PROGENY program.  While there were student submissions from all over the country, the PROGENY program only accepts the top 10 undergraduate student researchers. It is truly an honor that Katie was accepted to take part in this prestigious program.” 

Young is looking forward to attending a conference with so many speech-language pathologists in attendance. Working on her own student research allowed her to read other’s work, and being able to connect with those researchers in person will bring everything full circle.  

“I am really excited to meet the researchers I have been citing in my work,” she said.  

Young will continue to build upon this research during her fifth year in the CSD program at La Salle through her master’s thesis. Following graduation, she plans to apply to doctoral programs to continue to build on her own experiences, education, and research.  

—Meg Ryan