• Brae Wence tries on her mortarboard in preparation for her May graduation.

All Illinois State University graduate students in speech-language pathology are required to choose one of three culminating experiences to meet the program’s requirements: 1. comprehensive exam, 2. independent study, or 3. master’s thesis. The master’s thesis requires students to conduct an original research study, and Erin Logsdon and Braelyn Wence, second-year graduate students, were the only students in their cohort to complete the master’s thesis option. Both students successfully defended their master’s thesis and will be graduating in May.

Logsdon’s thesis on college-aged women’s perception of vocal fry included an analysis of archival data from a faculty member’s lab. As an undergraduate student, Logsdon worked with Dr. Lisa Vinney to study voice and the use of vocal fry among adults, and she knew she wanted to continue this line of work as a graduate student.

Logsdon said the thesis increased her ability to think critically, and she believes it will support her as a future speech-language pathologist. Logsdon is currently finishing her master’s program through an internship at the Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana, focusing on patients with traumatic brain injuries.

Wence’s thesis focused on toddlers’ and preschoolers’ use of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) systems during parent-child shared book reading. She collected and coded videos of parents reading with their young children while including AAC systems to support child communication. Wence says she feels completing a thesis made her more marketable for future opportunities and prepared her for a potential doctoral degree. Wence is currently interning at the Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital doing feeding/swallowing evaluations and treatment.

The Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders applauds the work of Logsdon and Wence! If you are a graduate student in speech-language pathology and are interested in completing a master’s thesis, please do not hesitate to reach out to faculty members in the department. A master’s thesis is a great opportunity to challenge yourself while also learning more about research and the field of speech-language pathology.