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‘Undergraduate research has been so cool. It’s another one of those application pieces where I’m learning about a lot of information in class, and then being able to see it happen in the lab is great.’

Jaemin Yoo (’15)

Talk about your undergraduate research.

I work in the neural bases for communications and swallowing lab, and I’m part of the team run by a graduate student who is looking into what areas of the brain activate for different swallows and different stimuli, so we work with water and sour boluses. We have what looks like an MRI machine that measures what areas light up in the brain when you’re exposed to the stimuli, and for how long. It is fascinating work.

How did you choose Communication Sciences and Disorders?

I actually found out about CSD during a session at the CHOICES admitted-student open house I came to. It sounded so interesting when they were describing the mechanism of the voice, the things that can go wrong with it, problems that arise from it. And then actually being in the major, it’s a lot of foundational material that’s laying the framework for graduate school, which you have to do in CSD.

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Are there different types of CSD programs?

CSD is broken up into speech-language pathology and audiology. Undergraduates take classes in both but the graduate programs are separate. Interestingly, people think that the only people we help are people who stutter. The reality is that speech pathologists help a huge range of people — children with autism, people with swallowing disorders and voice disorders, just to name several categories. There’s this huge spectrum that CSD covers.

Do you know what you want to do next?

Speech pathologist is the main heading, I guess you would say, and right now I’m thinking a lot about being in a medical setting. A lot of the graduate programs I’m looking at have that medical aspect to them. I want to work with stroke patients and traumatic brain injury patients, helping them re-learn to communicate by getting back what they have lost or accommodating for any injuries that they have. And this would occur in a hospital or perhaps a private clinic setting.

What’s your favorite class so far?

Introduction to Phonetics. It’s a class based on learning the International Phonetic Alphabet — or IPA — which is how a lot of professionals in the field will transcribe sounds. So instead of transcribing words with letters, you do it by sounds. It’s a lot different from what we would consider the normal alphabet. It’s based off the position of the tongue and the tongue’s placement in the mouth. A lot of the sounds that we create are based on those two factors. Using IPA, if there is disordered speech, you will know where the problem exists, and have a good start on how to change it. Also, learning IPA has been so cool because my friends and I can write messages to each other and nobody besides us can understand them. You know, now that I think about it, all the CSD alternative communication classes such as this one and also Introduction to Sign Language have been super interesting to me.

Do you have a favorite professor?

I feel like there are a couple professors who I have enjoyed having during my time at JMU. My junior year Intro to Audiology class was taught by Kristin Sewall. She has several degrees from JMU, so she’s immersed in the JMU culture and she just wonderful. Very supportive and took lots of extra time to explain things to us in class. Super knowledgeable and also employed in the field. A lot of my professors are still active in the field, which is really invaluable to us as students because they are so current with their information and practices. Another favorite professor is Susan Ingraham, who teaches my senior-only clinical observation class, so you go into a clinic and observe a graduate student and then also have an in-class aspect to it as well. In this class, we’re learning about all the different disorders and ways to effectively work with them, and then we go out and watch clinicians apply what we are learning as we take notes on that.

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Jaemin Yoo (’15)

Major: Communication Sciences and Disorders
Minors: Non-teaching Special Education; Family Studies
Hometown: Springfield, Va.
Highlights: Has done undergraduate research on neural bases and swallowing; Student Ambassador; JMU chapter president of the National Student Speech-Language Hearing Association; Best Buddies, a program that connects JMU students with Harrisonburg community people with disabilities.

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