Student Team

Bailey Blaisdell (2020-Current)

I am in my first year as a graduate student at Central Michigan University pursuing speech-language pathology. I always wanted to get involved with research but was not sure of what I wanted to do until I saw Dr. Strong present her songwriting project at a conference. I knew right way I wanted to be involved in this and immediately asked her if I could be part of her team. I love the sense of community in the lab and being surrounded by people who share the same passion for aphasia and identity after aphasia. It is so rewarding to see the difference in people’s sense of identity after participating in the songwriting project and I am grateful to be part of this. I have always wanted to make a difference in people’s lives and I finally feel like I am doing just that.

Emily Damman (2020-2021)

I am a senior at Central Michigan University and studying Communication Sciences and Disorders. I am joining lab this year to broaden my knowledge in all you can do as a speech pathologist, especially working with patients with aphasia. I believe lab will be a fabulous way to gain new skills, meet new people with similar passions, and make special connections with students, professors, and clinicians. My goal is to soon work in a hospital setting with either pediatric swallowing patients or in adult care. I am still undecided, but I know I want to start off in a clinical setting! I am beyond excited to work with some amazing and passionate people this upcoming year and to learn everything I can under Dr. Strong!

Alyssa Douglass (2020-2021)

I am an undergraduate student and in the program for the Communication Sciences and Disorders major. I am originally from Big Rapids, Michigan and will be a senior during the 2020-2021 school year. I decided to join Dr. Strong’s lab because I want to expand my knowledge on how to do research and what is involved with it. I am interested in joining lab because I wanted to learn more about topics involving speech language pathology outside of the classroom. I also wanted to join to determine what topics I am interested in and what direction I would like to pursue in the future as a speech-language pathologist.

Julie Ann Fargo (2018-Current)

My hometown is Farmington, Michigan which is a northern suburb of Metropolitan Detroit! I earned my Bachelor of Science degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders in May 2019 at CMU and in June 2020 I returned as a graduate student! I joined Dr. Strong’s lab during my senior year of college. I was new to research, however Dr. Strong and her lab members truly helped me learn the process of applying storytelling with rehabilitation for individuals who are stroke victims. My favorite learning experience was attending my first MSHA conference where I helped present research with my team. I learned valuable team-work skills and knowledge of the aphasia population. Because of lab, I am eager to learn more about aphasia in graduate school and work with this population in my future. Lab helped me boost my confidence, apply evidence-based practice, and taught me about collaboration which are three skills I am excited to continue in graduate school!

Emily Fife (2018-Current)

I am currently a graduate student in Central Michigan University’s Speech-Language Pathology program. I am originally from Perrinton, MI and received my undergraduate degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders from CMU. I joined Dr. Strong’s lab my senior year of undergrad and returned as a graduate assistant during my first year of graduate school. I’m currently an active member while going into my final year of graduate school. Through qualitative research and evidenced based practices, I learned about aphasia, how stories are linked to identity, and the importance of storytelling. I find myself applying what I have learned in lab over the years to current projects, clients, and even my full-time job as a Community Inclusion Specialist at Gratiot Integrated Health Network. Being a part of Dr. Strong’s lab has opened so many doors for my future and has led me to discover my passions as a future speech-language pathologist.

Amelia Gullo (2019-present)

I am a graduate student in Central Michigan University’s Speech-Language Pathology program. I am originally from Midland, MI and received my undergraduate degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders from CMU. I joined Dr. Strong’s lab during my senior year and returned as a graduate student to be the graduate assistant for this group in 2020-2021. I have loved being a part of the fun, enlightening, and welcoming community that Dr. Strong created in lab. I have built bonds with some of my closest friends through this and created many fond memories. I also learned a lot about aphasia, and how stories are linked to identity through this project. One of my favorite memories was working to transcribe the therapy sessions that make up this research. Through this, I was able to hear some amazing stories told by strong and inspirational individuals that have motivated me to be the best clinician I can be.

Chloe Ilacqua (2019-present)

I am an undergraduate student at CMU studying communication sciences and disorders and psychology. I am originally from Brighton MI and started doing research in the lab my junior year at Central! My favorite part of lab has been being able to learn so much about aphasia and be able to watch therapy sessions.

Grace Inch (2020-2021)

I am an underclassman at Central Michigan University, studying Communicative Sciences and Disorders. I joined Dr. Strong’s lab with a goal to understand the world of speech disorders, to further the field of research and to better myself as a student and an eventual speech language pathologist.

Nick Malendowski (2019-2021)

I am an undergraduate student in Central Michigan University’s Communication Sciences and Disorders program. I am originally from Chesterfield, MI, which is about 30 minutes northeast of Detroit. I am working on receiving my undergraduate degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders and Psychology from CMU. I joined Dr. Strong’s lab during my junior year at CMU and I plan on staying until I graduate! Being a part of Dr. Strong’s lab has introduced me to so many new friends and helped me gain incredible connections. One of my favorite parts about being in lab is our biweekly lab meetings! It’s nice to step away from other activities and engage in good conversation with other students just like me. Joining Dr. Strong’s lab has also given me new research opportunities, including my Honors’ Capstone project, which focuses on patient-centered research.

Susan Valensky (2018- Current):

I am a graduate student in Central Michigan University’s Speech-Language Pathology program. I am originally from Ann Arbor, MI and received my undergraduate degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders from CMU (Fire Up!). I joined Dr. Katie Strong’s lab my junior year of undergrad and returned as a graduate student. I have enjoyed being part of a community that shares a similar passion in acknowledging the importance of quality of life for those impacted by aphasia and TBI. Dr. Strong has created an inclusive community of students that I am so

grateful to have formed friendships with as well as collaborate with as future colleagues. I also have learned a lot about aphasia and how stories are linked to identity and establishing a new journey in life. A few of my favorite memories include presenting my team’s research project and my independent study at MSHA 2019. Presenting my own research gave me confidence to share my knowledge with other individuals and network with other professionals at a conference. Being a member of Dr. Strong’s lab has made a huge impact on my life in terms of discovering a population of individuals I would like to work with as a future speech-language pathologist.