By Kasy Long
Apr 13, 2023
Communication Sciences and Disorders Major
at Indiana State University
Elisabeth Kerby aspires to work with elementary school children, but she won’t be teaching history or science. As a communication sciences and disorders major with minors in psychology and English as a Second Language [ESL], Kerby instead will advocate for students’ language needs – making language a priority for children who face language learning barriers.
Kerby’s interest in speech-language pathology led to her enrollment as an Indiana State Sycamore. Now a senior set to graduate in May 2023, she has been awarded the 2023 Daniel J. Bradley Medal for Leadership, Scholarship, and Service. She has made full use of the University’s academic opportunities, including her involvement in Indiana State’s Honors College as a Presidential Scholar.
An immersive academic unit, the Honors College offers unique learning experiences in a collaborative environment for students. With smaller class sizes, individualized and group research projects, and powerful experiential learning opportunities, the Honors College is an integral part of Indiana State’s strong academic foundation.
“The classes provide content that requires students to think outside the box and view issues from all points of view. The Honors College staff, professors, and fellow students genuinely care about each other. It’s nice to be with people who value academics. I have felt transformed as a student,” Kerby explains.
Honors College faculty encourage students to complete research projects in their major. In her communication sciences and disorders program, Kerby has researched the effects of wearing masks during COVID on children who have language development disabilities. She observed how children learn words based on emotional feelings. By wearing masks, these emotions are harder to decipher, leading to more challenges in a child’s development.
Kerby’s research has been presented at national conferences, including the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Her work prepares her for graduate school, where she plans to earn a master’s degree in speech-language pathology at Indiana State.
“Children who struggle with language disabilities often have a hard time making friends. They sometimes don’t have someone advocating for them. I want to be that person,” Kerby says.
Students in the communication sciences and disorders program enhance their education with clinical experiences, particularly in the Rowe Center for Communicative Disorders [RCCD]. The Center provides language therapy services and diagnostic testing for youth and adult clients. Students assist licensed speech-language pathologists during therapy sessions and other clinical work.
Kerby has applied her classroom knowledge in these clinical settings and cohort groups, guided by mentorship from graduate students and professors.
“I have learned different ways to approach language subjects and I have been able to learn more about myself. I have stepped outside my comfort zone,” she says.
The Sycamore has also ventured far from Indiana State’s campus. During the summer of 2022, Kerby completed a weeklong study abroad trip in London for an Honors College class on the history of the British Empire. For ten days, she visited museums, popular attractions, and historical landmarks, including Big Ben, the London Bridge, and others.
The trip required Kerby to study a specific era of the British Empire and history. The Sycamore focused on Shakespearean language and how the playwright’s language has influenced modern-day language and speech patterns. This study broadened her perspective on speech, language, and developmental psychology. The trip concluded with a visit to Shakespeare’s historic Globe Theatre, where Kerby attended a performance of a modernized version of King Henry VIII.
“This study abroad experience was the most meaningful to me because I got to travel across the world and learn so much history. I spent evenings exploring London with close friends I made during the trip. This opportunity was a once-in-a-lifetime experience where I learned so much about myself and others,” says Kerby.
With graduation around the corner, Kerby has been reflecting on her experience as an Indiana State Sycamore. The senior has been involved in the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association, and she served as a career peer advisor in the Career Center and worked in the Center for Community Engagement.
With a passion for helping others and for community involvement, Kerby also served as president of Zeta Tau Alpha in the Panhellenic Association. As a member of the Greek Life sorority, she participated in campus and community activities, including intramural sports, attending sports games, and volunteering for Homecoming activities. In the past, Kerby has participated in the annual Sycamore Tricycle Derby race during Homecoming.
“I have met so many amazing people who value the same things I do and make Indiana State feel like home. Through Greek life, I have also met wonderful people who are involved in the Honors College and have helped me succeed academically, while also getting to enjoy being a college student,” Kerby explains.
With community involvement, practical clinical training, research projects, travel, and strong relationships with faculty, staff, and campus peers, Kerby is prepared for her future as a passionate speech-language pathologist. Now she’s on her way to making a difference for children. Because compassionate learners wear BLUE!