Cyan Cosby

Hometown: Carmel, IN
College: Science, Honors
Major: Biology

Language and speech are things most people take for granted until it is too late. My interest in speech pathology started in the fall of 2014, when my father had a heart attack. He did not receive medical treatment for several hours which led to a lack of oxygen to his brain. The medical team caring for my dad was worried about the repercussions he may face when he woke up, one of them being his speech. I wondered what this process would look like. I was fascinated with the idea of the language process and how various injuries or impairments could affect it. Thankfully, when my dad woke up he did not need speech therapy; however this is a very common rehabilitation service that adults need after suffering from brain related injuries. Through a traumatic experience, my curiosity about speech pathology began.

As an aspiring speech pathologist, I will study and treat speech and language impairments. To effectively treat impairments, it is important to have a strong understanding of typical development and language acquisition milestones. Through my studies at Purdue University and my work at a developmental preschool, I have experience working with children who are learning English as their first language.

Studying and observing language acquisition in Tanzania is another stepping stone in my understanding of language development across various domains. Not only is it important to understand how a typically developing child acquires language, but it is important to understand how all types of people learn language, whether it is their native language or a completely new language. This summer in Tanzania, I have the opportunity to explore English language acquisition in children who are not native English speakers. As a speech pathologist in a medical setting, I will be working with adults who have suffered from strokes or other brain injuries. Because of the variation in language impairment after an injury, having a broad scope of speech and language development will assist my development in my area of study. I am especially excited about the tie between Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences and the experience this trip will provide.

The focus of my trip on this Gilman Scholarship is to teach Tanzanian students English and improve their language skills, which are necessary to pass the national exam. I will teach English in primary and secondary schools in Boma Village and spend time in an orphanage. I am also leading one of the four service projects for this study abroad trip.

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