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CHHS CSD Student Presents Research at Various Conferences

CHHS CSD Student Presents Research at Various Conferences

Kelly Fussman, a senior in the Honors College with majors in Communication Disorders and Spanish, presented her research at three conferences in three consecutive weeks this month.  In early February she presented at the University of Alabama's Languages Conference, last week at the Kentucky Speech-Language-Hearing Association's (KSHA) Annual Convention, and this past Thursday at Posters at the Capitol.  Fussman was awarded a $3,000 Faculty-Undergraduate Student Engagement (FUSE) Grant to develop an English language skills seminar series for international students at WKU.  Fussman worked closely with faculty advisors Dr. Mary Lloyd Moore and Dr. Suguna Mukthyala.


Pictured: Kelly Fussman

Universities in the United States host a substantial number of international students every academic year. Western Kentucky University alone is currently home to over 1,400 international students. These students often face a number of challenges upon arrival in the United States, especially when it comes to language and cultural differences. Many international students attribute academic and social difficulties to a lack of proficiency in the English language and unfamiliarity with the local culture.

To address these concerns, Fussman developed and taught a five-day English language skills seminar series for a group of ten international students, focusing on pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary, listening and reading comprehension, and writing skills. As evidenced by pre- and post-assessment results, the seminar series was effective in improving both the students’ speech and language skills. Participants also noted an increase in their confidence level when communicating in English. These results highlight the need for quality language and cultural education programs for international students in order for them to be more successful while studying abroad.

Fussman serves as a College of Health and Human Services Student Ambassador and is a member of a number of professional and student organizations including the WKU Chapter of the National Student Speech-Language-Hearing Association, Sigma Delta Pi Hispanic Honor Society, Golden Key International Honor Society, and Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society.  She recently interned with First Steps, Inc., a non-profit child development and therapy center, and the Nashville Adult Literacy Council, a non-profit organization that teaches adult Americans to read and teaches adult immigrants the English language. These experiences gave her the opportunity to practice Spanish in a clinical setting and work on speech and language skills with individuals across the lifespan. Fussman looks forward to beginning a master’s level program in speech-language pathology this fall. 

Learn more about CHHS Communication Sciences and Disorders program by visiting their website:

Contact: Dr. Leigh Anne Roden-Carrier | 270-745-4687 |

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