Five Masters Speech-Language Pathology (SLP) students from University of Texas El Paso (UTEP) visited the UW-Madison Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD) Department for two weeks in July. This visit was part of a new research training collaboration that was established last spring between the two groups. The goal of the collaboration is to enhance the research pipeline in Communication Sciences and Disorders for Hispanic students. UTEP is a Hispanic-serving institution with roughly 50% of their student population being first-generation Hispanic students. We hope that with this type of collaboration, our universities can better promote research experiences and careers for undergraduate and graduate students from minority backgrounds that are not currently represented in our field.
This year’s visiting students were Alejandra Fanith, Sofía Carranza, Ariadna Hernández, Lailani Chehedeh, and Serena Pedroza. UTEP faculty member Dr. Amelia Rau also joined on the campus visit. During their time at UW-Madison, the UTEP students received intensive hands-on research experiences in different CSD laboratories including: Dr. Carlos Benitez-Barrera‘s Pediatric Auditory Experience and Brain Lab, Dr. Michelle Ciucci’s Lab, Dr. Rebecca Alper’s Language and Literacy Lab, Dr. Margarita Kaushanskaya’s Language Acquisition and Bilingualism Lab, and Dr. Haley Dresang’s Neuroscience of Language Lab. The students also visited other campus laboratories and attended research seminars where they received career mentorship from different faculty members. Finally, UTEP students met with current UW-Madison CSD doctoral students and had time to enjoy our campus and the city of Madison. The visit ended with a wonderful presentation in which UTEP students presented their learning experiences to the department.
Building for the Future
Our department is committed to continuing to provide mentorship to this first cohort of visiting students, as well as establishing a strong collaboration program with UTEP.
We are happy to announce that CSD recently received the Partnership Program in Graduate Excellence (PPGE) grant from the UW-Madison Graduate School. The main goal of this initiative is to create new and nurture existing relationships with Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) that will result in the enrollment of outstanding PhD students from underrepresented backgrounds through engagement that fosters research collaborations, faculty professional development, creation of collaborative activities, and exchange programs for faculty, staff, and students.
This award of $25,000 will support the research training program for two additional cohorts from UTEP that will visit CSD in 2024 and 2025. This grant will allow us to expand this first pilot program to better serve a new cohort of students visiting UW-Madison from UTEP. Our goal is to build a sustainable research-training partnership with UTEP by building capacity and securing further funding in upcoming years. We are also exploring options to offer our students an opportunity to visit UTEP during the summer to receive clinical training on serving minority populations.
We believe that the five UTEP students visiting us this year are in a better position now to pursue a research career in CSD. We hope this is the first step in creating a successful collaboration with UTEP and are committed to bringing new perspectives and diversity to the field of Communication Sciences and Disorders.