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May 6, 2017

Joyanna Struzzieri Reflects Upon Her Thesis Experience

Joyanna Struzzieri, 2017 Communication Sciences and Disorders Graduate Student, successfully defended her thesis recently!  Congratulations, Joy! She writes about her experience below:

My thesis was on identifying and measuring different foods and liquids administered by speech-language pathologists (SLPs) during evaluations of swallowing function and how SLPs’ over or underestimation of these amounts during the evaluation can impact recommendations and treatment.

From beginning to end, the process for completing the thesis was always an interesting journey. When I decided to pursue a thesis in the fall of 2015, I thought I knew what the trajectory would be, but I certainly underestimated the complexity of conducting research! Once my advisor, Dr. Kellyn Hall, and myself had mapped out the process that semester, the thesis slowly came together, inch by inch.  After I obtained Longwood’s institutional review board’s approval, I began to collect data from practicing SLPs. After the data was completed, the data analysis and the writing process began. My efforts culminated in the successful completion of my thesis defense on April 11, 2017. Along the journey, I had opportunities to share my research with other professionals. I presented the results of my thesis at the American Speech-Language Hearing Association’s national conference in Philadelphia in the fall of 2016 and at the Speech-Language Hearing Association of Virginia’s conference in Richmond, Virginia in the spring of 2017.

Throughout the process, I would often remind myself of a quote a science teacher once told me, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”  The process of completing the thesis often felt overwhelming, but slowly I would complete one section or one aspect of the thesis at a time. I celebrated each milestone while always keeping the next objective in mind. I was fortunate to have a strong support system of my thesis advisor, faculty, peers, and family to help me and cheer me on along the way. Completing the thesis was a daunting task, but the feelings of pride and accomplishment I have now make me extremely happy I pursued this option.

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