Communication Sciences and Disorders Department

Background and Passion

Why speech language pathology: While studying education, I was hooked by a course on the complexity of communicating and how instantly that ability could be lost, such as from a car accident or stroke. Speech pathologists work with the skills we take for granted — communication, swallowing, and talking.

Helping patients transform: "When I was working with young adults with traumatic brain injury, they were often confused and frustrated that they couldn't speak or remember. Over months of speech language therapy, they regained the ability to communicate and could return home and eventually return to school. One young lady, about 18, woke up from a coma and didn't realize she was in a hospital. At first we worked on communicating by pointing. Then I helped her re-learn to use her voice, until she could spontaneously talk. Eventually she was able to tell her parents she loved them. She returned to college. Seeing that progression was a very powerful thing for me as a young clinician. The young lady got the opportunity to re-engage with life."


Hands-on experience: "I have been a licensed and certified speech-language pathologist for 35 years. For more than 20 years, I worked in medical settings in the Albany area and at the University of Rochester Medical Center. I began teaching full-time at Nazareth in 1996."

Connecting classroom to clinical work: "When I'm teaching about the importance of empathy, of listening, and of not passing judgment, stories come out from my clinical experiences. The examples help students make connections between what they are learning in class and real clinical practice. Then the students apply what they've learned by working (under supervision) with patients in our on-campus clinics and in the community. It's rewarding to see the excitement of the students as they help patients with neurological conditions or other challenges improve."

Cutting-edge curriculum

"I developed new interprofessional curriculum in the School of Health and Human Services — new courses and experiences where students work collaboratively. Speech language pathologists can collaborate with music therapists, for example, because singing may be a way for a patient to find their voice again."

Courses I taught

  • Methods of Diagnosis
  • Methods of Evaluation
  • Motor Speech Disorders
  • Speech Pathology I and II
  • Clinical Methods
  • Multicultural Issues
  • Contemporary Issues in Interprofessional Team Practice

Why Nazareth

Full scope of practice: "During teaching, advising, and supervising, the communication sciences and disorders faculty share the varied expertise they've developed from their clinical experience and research, so students learn the full scope of practice. Some people think that in a professional program, you just learn a set of skills. But our students get so much more. They learn to understand the rich theory, research, and knowledge base behind what we do with our clients. They begin to value diverse perspectives and approaches. Often they see that there is not simply one right answer."

Proud moments: "I've loved attending national conventions and seeing our students and alumni there in force, both as attendees and presenters. At an American Speech and Hearing Association convention, I saw 30 of our alumni who now work all over the country, in medical settings, private practices, and schools for students who are deaf. They become great resources for our current students. An alumnae who has become an expert in working with veterans who have various communication and swallowing disorders has been a strong advocate for our program and is helpful to our students who are interested in that type of work, for example. Students who pursue our deafness or autism specialization programs get recruited from across the country because of their expertise."

Lisa Durant Jones, Communication Sciences and Disorders, Nazareth College

"When [students] succeed, when I can say that I’ve contributed to a new generation of professionals, when I see my students getting great jobs and doing phenomenal things with clients — there’s nothing better than that reward. That is my passion, and that is why I've loved to teach."

Alum Quote

“Dr. D-J is an expert in the field who teaches with intention, challenging you in the classroom but also supporting you along the way. She encourages civic engagement and teaches the importance of meeting genuine needs in the community.  She supported the research and volunteer work I did at Mary’s Place Refugee Outreach Center which led to opportunities to co-present at national and international conferences. She’s widely praised for being an excellent leader. She has taught me how to advocate for my profession, my clients, and myself."

Anne Marie LaFave ‘13, ‘15G, speech-language pathologist for the Rochester City School District

Faculty Spotlights

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