Danilda Osunfisan recently completed her capstone experience, marking the final step in becoming the first student to complete the new Doctor of Speech-Language Pathology (SLPD) at the University of Kansas.
The SLPD program, or clinical doctorate in speech-language pathology, is designed as a post-master's degree program for full- or part-time students who want to acquire additional skills in a specific area of study in speech-language pathology.
"I originally started in the Ph.D. program, but after much deliberation I realized that an SLPD would better prepare me for my career goals," said Osunfisan, who graduated in May. "The SLPD allows me to focus on the clinical component of our field, which is where my passion lies. I love seeing my patients progress and being as involved as possible throughout their progress."
Osunfisan's capstone project explored issues associated with interactive book reading for bilingual children with specific language impairment. The project helped her understand the challenges in creating appropriate interventions to help these children and to find ways to involve parents and other caregivers as part of the solutions.
"Danilda is a great example of the type of person the SLPD program is meant for," said her mentor, Holly Storkel, co-director of the Intercampus Program in Communicative Disorders. "She had a number of years of clinical experience learning about the challenges faced by children learning in two languages, and the SLPD gave her the opportunity to learn more about bilingual language development and the associated clinical issues. Her capstone experience helped her take what she learned in her SLPD classes and apply it to her clinical practice."
Originally from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Osunfisan plans to continue working with bilingual children and their caregivers when she moves into private practice. Osunfisan earned her bachelor's degree in child development from Florida State University and her master's degree in communication disorders from Rockhurst University.
The Kansas Board of Regents approved the SLPD program in 2014 and the program enrolled its first students in 2015. A minimum of 30 credit hours are required to complete the degree with most of the classes taking place on the University of Kansas Medical Center campus. There are currently four students in the program and another four will join the program this fall.