Katie Stanford decides to travel from California to the Midwest to play softball at Newman University, hoping to one day become a speaking physician.
However, these plans changed slightly after discovering that Newman had not offered her major. Although enjoying her time as a collegiate softball player, Stanford transferred her freshman year to Washington State University to continue studying speech pathology.
Later this month, Stanford will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders with a minor who is ASL. After graduation, she will begin her graduate studies at WSU for a master’s degree in speech pathology.
Stanford decided to specialize in speech pathology after a member of her family had a stroke and was diagnosed with aphasia. Aphasia is a language disorder that causes a person to have difficulty expressing themselves and understanding due to brain damage.
“I want to be able to help others who have gone through a similar experience because I not only know how it affects the person who has been diagnosed, but also how it affects their loved ones,” Stanford said.
Stanford uses a personal hobby of improving to practice connecting with others for her future career. Currently, she and a local improvisation group visit an elementary school in Wichita frequently to teach children English vocabulary, her second language being English.
“I know I help others and I am sure the transition they are making to learning English must be very difficult for them, so if I can be light in their day while also helping them learn, that is a win,” Stanford said. Talk to them and learn about their cultures and how they differ from ours.”
She is a good leader, patient and very intuitive person, said Kelly McGarry, a good friend of Stanford from high school who she met in the theater. McGarry said she also has a game plan for everything and is ready to take on any challenge.
“I can see that she is very good at reading her prospective patients and devising the best approach to communicating with them,” McGarry said.
The Stanford University trip came with some difficulties after moving to Washington State University. Stanford moved around the time of the COVID-19 pandemic and had to take classes entirely online like many other college students. She credits her teachers for helping her make the transition into her first year smooth.
Dr. Stanford said, “Marble-Flint can always put a smile on your face during class, Dr. Musagi has a great sense of humor and Dr. O’Brien is super knowledgeable and makes the course material very interesting for students.”
Stanford University not only hopes to land a job in speech pathology, but helps others understand why it’s important. She said there is a great need for speech pathology for individuals with autism spectrum disorder and the older population.
“Speech-language pathology is more essential in today’s society than ever before,” Stanford said. “We are getting better and better as we screen to identify individuals with autism spectrum disorder. As we learn more about this, we will need more speech therapists to support them with their communication needs.”