An Interest Leads to a Passion
“I always knew I wanted to work with kids, but I had never found the right avenue until I walked into the speech-language-hearing sciences (SLHS) department,” says alumna Sarah Rosen. Her story begins with SLHS 1401: Communication Differences and Disorders, simply an introductory class for most students. “I took the class because it sounded interesting. I had no idea that it would soon become my passion.”
“When I started at Minnesota, I was not set on a major or a career, but I knew that I wanted research to be part of my undergraduate experience,” says Rosen. “The UMN is known for being a leading research university, and that’s ultimately why I chose to continue my education here.”
For Rosen, research was an opportunity she had to pursue herself, not a guarantee. “I started by searching through the SLHS website, looking at what projects professors were doing,” she recounts. “When I read about Professor Benjamin Munson’s project with childhood speech development, I was immediately intrigued.” Since Rosen had just taken Communication Differences and Disorders, this research project looked like the perfect opportunity to explore the questions she had regarding typical and atypical speech.
Although the project only listed positions for graduate students, Rosen decided to take a chance and reach out to Dr. Munson, and her risk paid off when he invited her to join the team. “Professors get excited when students show a genuine interest in their research projects,” says Rosen. “My whole college experience changed because of one email.” She encourages students considering speech-language-hearing sciences, or any other major, to “just take one class or send one email. There’s no harm in exploring your options.”
Her Hearing Research
Although she has finished her undergraduate studies, Rosen continues to conduct research here at the University of Minnesota with Dr. Robert Schlauch.
In May 2018, Rosen will have the unique opportunity to present her cochlear implant research at the Acoustical Society of America in Minneapolis. Rosen’s interest in cochlear implants was cultivated by one of the many undergraduate research projects she participated in during her time with the SLHS department.
“The idea of the project was to understand how patients with cochlear implants hear speech. The end goal is to improve their overall experience, but in order to do that, we first have to comprehend what using this device is like for them,” Rosen explains.
After spending some time as a personal care assistant for a young boy with autism and hearing aids, Rosen understands the importance of looking at how hearing devices alter speech input. “The way that minor adjustments to his hearing devices changed his ability to hear amazed me,” says Rosen. “I quickly learned how much happiness they brought him.”
Looking towards the future, Rosen says, “Thanks to all of my experiences in the College of Liberal Arts and the SLHS department, my goals seem more achievable every day.”
When she started at Minnesota four years ago, Rosen only knew bits and pieces of what she wanted her future to look like. After earning a major in speech-language-hearing sciences, a minor in neuroscience, and a certificate in autism spectrum disorder, she’s a lot more confident.
Through her research and senior project, Rosen has found a way to combine her passions: working with children and making a difference.
Rosen took a semester off and will be pursuing her doctorate of audiology at Northwestern University in the fall. “Ideally, I would love to work as a pediatric audiologist as part of an infant cochlear implant team,” she says.
This story was written by an undergraduate student account executive in CLAgency. Meet the team.