Ashley Bramer, a graduate student in CSD had the opportunity to present her original research, “Reduced Sensitivity to L1-English Spelling Sound Regularity Early in L2 Learning,” at the International Symposium on Bilingualism at University of Limerick, Ireland in June 2017.  Ashley knows that her trip was made possible through the generous gifts of donors to the CSD Student Travel Fund, which was established to help students like Ashley attend conferences to learn from others and present their own work. Learn more about Ashley’s experience below:

What are your career goals following completion of the program?

Following completion of the program, I want to work with the bilingual English/Spanish population, most likely in a pediatric clinical outpatient setting. After gaining some clinical experience, I may return to school to pursue a doctoral degree.

How does research complement the coursework and clinical preparation in the program, and how will it help as you move toward your career goals?

Research brings a whole additional side to the spectrum of learning. My coursework has taught me a lot about theories that inform our practice, and clinical rotations have given me the hands-on experience, but working on research in the lab has shown me how data and analysis inform our understanding of speech/language processes and disorders in the first place—from the ground up. Our specific poster was particularly interesting for me. Because I learned Spanish in college, I could relate to the effects that we were observing in the brains of second-language learners. Studying this area made me reflect on changes that may have occurred in my own brain at I became proficient in a second language just a few years prior. My work with Dr. Botezatu has made me feel much more confident in the “scientific” side of my clinical work (tabulating client data, developing spreadsheets, etc.).  Through this experience, I can say that I truly understand the meaning of “evidence-based practice.” I will do my best to keep up with the current literature and use it in my own therapy sessions in the future!

Tell us about your international presentation experience! 

I would say that my international presentation experience was immensely different from an experience at a conference in this country! The people who attended the conference were from a variety of fields- linguistic, psychology, neurology, sociology and more. They were also from a variety of countries, and spoke a wide variety of languages. The U.S. was in the minority in multiple ways. What surprised me the most was truly not knowing anything about a person from seeing the person. I saw many faces, and had no idea what country they were from. Then, even in learning someone’s country, I still did not know which languages the person spoke. The experience gave me a deep appreciation of others – both the differences across cultures and the similarities in our desire to explore a common area of study. I would absolutely recommend this experience to other students. The more opportunities to learn from “other”—whether that be other fields, other cultures, or other languages—the more it enhances one’s own learning experience.

Would you have been able to take advantage of this opportunity if not for outside support – such as the CSD Travel Fund? What would you say to donors who have the opportunity to help fund experiences like this for other students?

I can say without a doubt that I would not have had the opportunity to go to Ireland had it not been for the outside support I received, such as through the CSD Travel Fund. To anyone who has the opportunity to fund experiences like these for other students, I would say that this investment continues long beyond just writing a check. These experiences truly shape students’ learning in a way they cannot get from a classroom.  The impact will stay with them for the rest of their professional careers.