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Farlah Cadley headshot

September 2017

Farlah Cadely remembers the day she came home to find her younger sister, an elementary school student, crying in her room. Cadely learned that when her sister read a passage out loud in class, the other students heard her speech error and bullied her.

Her sister pronounced “r” sounds as “w,” an issue that can be helped by a speech-language pathologist, but in this case, resolved with age.

Cadely never forgot her sister’s experience; however, it wasn’t until a high school career aptitude test suggested speech pathology as a profession that she researched the field and decided to pursue it. She appreciated that the career would provide both research opportunities along with regular interpersonal communication while helping others.

“We take a lot of communication for granted, such as conveying basic wants and needs like saying we are hungry or that we need to use the bathroom, and not everyone can do that,” Cadely said. “Communication is the key to everything. When we first come out of the womb we communicate by making eye contact with our moms.”

As a communication sciences and disorders graduate student at Penn State, Cadely works as a research assistant for Nicole Etter, an assistant professor of Communications Sciences and Disorders. Together, they are studying how lip and tongue sensation play a role in speech.

“We want to know how sensation plays a role in our speech and once we determine that role it will guide how we assess individuals and how we treat them in order to improve their level of communication,” Cadely said. “This is important because if you have decreased sensation that may mean you can’t feel where your articulators are going, so your speech may come out slurred.”

For her career, Cadely sees herself focusing on swallowing and voice disorders with adults, preferably in a medical setting. Such patients would include those who have suffered a stroke and lost some of their abilities to communicate.

“I have a passion for working with patients and helping them on that journey back to their old self,” Cadely said.

For professional development, Cadely attended the 2017 National Black Association for Speech Language and Hearing’s annual convention in Atlanta.

“I realized that the number of minorities decreases when you go through academia and you don’t necessarily see yourself represented in the academic world,” Cadely said. “When I went to the convention it was great to see there are so many other minorities in the field. A lot of the convention was based around mentorship and everyone was so willing to share their experiences and help guide others. It was also an opportunity to be exposed to research and how to apply it to the clinical world.”



There are eight areas for students to study within the College of Health and Human Development:

Biobehavioral Health

Communication Sciences and Disorders

Health Policy and Administration

Hospitality Management

Human Development and Family Studies

Kinesiology

Nutritional Sciences

Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management