Dave Alexander“As a non-traditional student, I was able to get the guidance and support needed.”

David Alexander – Vineland, NJ
Majors: Doctor of Audiology (Au.D.)

I originally came to USD in 2009, while serving an active duty Army officer, and was an assistant professor with the Department of Military Science. As a faculty member, I began to learn how good of an educational institution USD is.

In 2010, I decided to apply to accelerated nursing programs to become a registered nurse. However, one of the audiology professors posed the question if I ever thought about becoming an audiologist. She also invited me to observe some clinic sessions. I agreed and began to observe sessions and asked other students questions. Because I had this unique opportunity to experience first-hand a portion of the audiology program, I decided to apply to the doctorate program.

After graduation, I intend on working with the pediatric population and with individuals with cochlear implants and other implantable devices. I have thoroughly enjoyed the education and very diverse clinic opportunities that was offered. As a non-traditional student, I was able to get the guidance and support needed when I transitioned from my military career to my academic career. This was one of the best decisions that I have made. If anyone is looking to develop and grow into a highly successful future professional, then I would highly recommend that they come to USD.

Candace Zweifel“After completing several observations in health settings, I fell in love with the world of speech-language pathology.”

Candace Zweifel, MA, CCC-SLP – Beresford, SD
Majors: SLP M.A. Program

I knew a career in healthcare would be a good fit for me but wasn’t sure exactly what. My first year of college I choose to complete only general coursework giving me more opportunity to decide what path was right for me. After discussing various career paths with others, I was introduced to speech-language pathology. It provided me with everything I had ever wanted in a career; the ability to work with people of all ages, in multiple settings, and teach new skills to patients and their families. 

Through CSD’s vigorous classroom and clinical experiences I gained the knowledge and skills to provide the best evidence based practice to my patients. The communication disorders and sciences program not only provided me with a foundation of knowledge and skills, but also a network of professional resources. In fact, I continue to have a great relationship with many of the USD professors and my fellow alumni, who I often collaborate with on various cases and research. 

Today, as a working clinician, I continue to love what I do. I work in the rural medical setting in South Dakota and I have the opportunity to provide services from the pediatric to geriatric populations. I provide services in multiple locations such as outpatient, long term care, skilled swing bed, and inpatient care in hospital, home and daycare settings.

Jessica Malepsy“I have welded into a professional with the empowerment to serve my patients to the best of my ability.”

Jessica Malepsy – Albert Lea, MN
Majors: Doctor of Audiology (Au.D.)

I grew up in Albert Lea, MN and desired to service my community in some way through the medical field. After completing my B.A. it was time to obtain my Doctorate of Audiology (Au.D.).

I chose to attend the University of South Dakota after walking onto USD’s campus and having a sensation of “this is home.” Meeting with the professors in the Speech and Hearing Center, I knew that I was not just a number, but an individual who would be trained for excellence.

I have been offered and accepted an externship position at the Boys Town National Research Hospital (BTNRH) in Omaha, NE. USD has provided excellent education that has prepared me for my yearlong clinical externship. The best is yet to come, becoming an independent professional serving my community. My future plans are to serve the pediatric population who use cochlear implants. After all, my career of excellence has already started. It began the day I became a Coyote.

Kassie Davalos“I am grateful for the friendships I made and the quality of education that I received during my time at USD.”

Kassie (Ehresmann) Davalos – Yankton, SD
Majors: SLP M.A. Program

My story at USD begins like so many other first year college students. I was unsure of what I wanted for dinner that evening let alone what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. My dad suggested that I look into becoming a speech-language pathologist. I didn’t really know a lot about the profession, but after taking a tour of the department and meeting some of the faculty, I immediately decided that this place just felt “right.”

At the undergraduate and graduate levels, I received the academic and clinical training that prepared me not only for professional certification and licensure, but the clinical competence and confidence to practice in any setting that I chose after graduation. My classes were small and intimate, the professors were always available and willing to help or answer questions and my classmates and I quickly became like family. I left USD with lasting relationships with every one of my professors. To this day, I am able to reach out to any of them and they willingly answer my questions and offer professional guidance and advice.

Since graduating from USD, I have practiced in a pediatric outpatient/outreach clinic, as well as in a medical rehab setting with adults. I have found my niche working with children in an educational setting, and as a PRN therapist in the medical/rehab setting. I have supervised an SLP during her clinical fellowship year and two graduate students during their medical internships. I am confident in my skills as a practicing speech-language pathologist, but I learn something new every day. In this profession, you really are a life-long learner.

Kelly Mueting“I continue to draw on clinical experiences even today.”

Kelly Mueting - Sheldon, IA
Majors: SLP M.A. Program

Deciding to attend USD in order to pursue my dream of becoming a speech-language pathologist was an easy decision for me to make. Starting from my first tour of the Department of Communication Sciences & Disorders, I knew this was the right college for me. I was able to gain an invaluable education through undergraduate coursework, guidance from professors, research opportunities and real life graduate clinical experiences.

One of the components I appreciated was the opportunity to be a part of the clinic on campus so early in my education through observation. Most afternoons I would eagerly sit in the darkened room listening to the graduate clinicians and professors while taking notes in order to make the connection between treatment techniques and classroom knowledge. Observation in the clinic is a great way to see early on what kind of difference therapists make in patients' daily lives.

During my graduate coursework, I was exposed to multiple disorders and diagnoses through my clinical experiences on the Vermillion campus as well as in the Sioux Falls Scottish Rite Clinic. The professors made it challenging yet invigorating as I developed treatment plans and designed motivating, productive and interactive sessions for my clients. I continue to draw on those clinical experiences even today.

Because of my wide range of clinical experiences at USD, I have been able to use my skills as a speech-language pathologist in multiple settings including schools, hospitals and rehabilitation facilities while serving ages 1-100. I truly love my career choice and will always be grateful to the professors, staff and my fellow classmates for helping me achieve my dream.

Kendra Neugebauer“USD felt like the right fit.”

Kendra Neugebauer, AuD. CCC-A, F-AAA - Parkston, SD
Majors: Doctor of Audiology Program

Growing up in a small South Dakota town, the idea of going off to college can definitely be an overwhelming experience. At USD, I was able to encounter a small town feel with a big city impact. No matter where I was on campus, I would see a warm smile and a familiar face.

After an introductory communication sciences and disorders course, I quickly learned my new passion for helping individuals improve their quality of life through bettering their communication. After completing my Bachelor of Science in 2009, I applied and was accepted to three different audiology doctorate programs, but only USD felt like the right fit.

The audiology program provides a comprehensive and diverse learning environment to prepare students for all facets of the profession. With a down-to-earth, experienced and engaging faculty encompassing all audiology specialties, students receive a top-notch education that you may not have the opportunity to experience at other audiology programs. My success in the graduate school would not have been possible without the support, hard work and dedication of all the staff, faculty and fellow students of the program. The relationships I have built with my fellow classmates and the professors will stay with me for years to come. 

The experience and education I received has already opened the door to professional opportunities for me as I’m serving on the American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA) Audiology Advisory Council as South Dakota’s lone representative. I am currently employed at Avera Medical Group of Yankton, which is also where I completed my fourth-year externship. I serve patients of all ages, providing comprehensive hearing and vestibular evaluations, tinnitus evaluations and treatment, industrial hearing conservation, as well as the selection, fitting and dispensing of hearing aids. I also offer outreach clinical services in Nebraska and South Dakota. The profession of audiology continuously proves to be a challenging yet rewarding experience that would not have been possible without the appropriate training I completed at USD.

Laura Bergeleen“After completing several observations in health settings, I fell in love with the world of speech-language pathology.”

Laura Bergeleen - White Lake, SD
Majors: SLP M.A. Program

When I decided to pursue a degree in speech language pathology, the University of South Dakota was the first place I looked. Since I didn’t have an undergraduate degree in communication sciences and disorders, I had to complete a year of prerequisite courses. The faculty and staff were very accommodating and made sure I was in the classes that I needed to be in. If I had any questions, they went the extra mile to make sure I got the right answer. Because of this, I felt very prepared for the course load in the SLP Masters of Arts program.

I appreciated the progression of courses in the SLP program as classes built on the knowledge of prior courses. My favorite part of the program was the hands-on clinic opportunities. While in the program, I did rotations at the Scottish-Rite Clinic in Sioux Falls, the Scottish-Rite clinic on campus and at the local facility for adults with disabilities. I worked with children in preschool, grade school, high school and adults with a wide range of skill levels. Also, I completed internships at the Vermillion School District and the Mat-Su Regional Outpatient Center in Wasilla, AK.

Because of the excellent education I received at USD, I passed my national certification exam on the first attempt and I accepted my first position as a school-based SLP before I finished my first internship.

Melissa Carrier“The professors at USD always had an open door policy.”

Melissa Carrier - Presho, SD
Majors: SLP M.A. Program

My current position as therapy supervisor at LifeScape Rehabilitation Center in Sioux Falls, SD would not have been possible without the educational foundation that I received while attending the University of South Dakota. The Communication Sciences and Disorders Department is a small but extremely focused and highly specialized program, which equipped me with the knowledge and skills to be a successful clinician.

The professors at USD always had an open door policy, allowing the opportunity to go to them with any questions that I had throughout my academic career. Each of my classes presented a combination of new challenges and practical clinical experiences. These challenges prepared me for the day-to-day demand that I face with diagnosis and treatment of speech and language disorders.

As a young leader in my field, I am very fortunate to have the foundation that the communication sciences and disorders program provided me while attending USD. I was instilled with the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration and leadership in our field, and looking back, there is not a single thing that I would change about the education that I received.

Natalie Erling“Our program is second to none.”

Natalie Erling - Yale, SD
Majors: SLP M.A. Program, Psychology

I feel ahead of the game in so many aspects of my new job, thanks to my awesome professors. My transition into my career has been an easy one. My CF supervisor keeps saying how impressed she is with how I'm understanding, doing, adjusting, planning and collaborating. I keep telling her that I was well prepared by my instructors.

I get my first pay check tomorrow and it feels so good. I also have my license framed and hanging next to my desk. That feels pretty great, too. Next stop, Certificate of Clinical Competence.