LU graduate student lands competitive spot at MD Anderson

LU graduate student, Kendyll Sher, has been selected for a competitive clinical internship at MD Anderson in Houston. Sher, who will graduate from LU in May 2021 with a master’s degree in speech-language pathology, will work under a licensed speech language pathologist and provide evaluations and treatment for cancer patients who struggle with swallowing, voice and language.

Sher was chosen after a rigorous vetting process that included an application, three letters of recommendation, a phone interview with an educational coordinator followed by a group interview. Sher was kendyll Sherinterviewed via Zoom due to the pandemic, by the entire team of 13 speech-language pathologists including the section chief.

“This opportunity was one that I didn’t want to pass up because MD Anderson is not only world-class, but is a research hospital, which means they implement evidence-based practice and highly value continuous education of staff and clients,” said Sher. “Something that drew me to this field is learning how to help people with communication disorders. MD Anderson is unique in that the patients not only have communication and/or swallowing disorders, but also are managing a cancer diagnosis on top of it.”

As a student intern, Sher, who earned a master’s degree in deaf education and early oral intervention from the University of Southern Mississippi, will attend meetings within the speech-language pathology department as well as meetings that include other members of a patient’s team such as oncologists, radiologists, dieticians, surgeons and others. She will observe surgeries including awake craniotomies where the SLP administers assessments while a patient is undergoing brain surgery and informs the surgeon of any language measures impacted before, during and after the surgery. Sher will also work with patients with unique needs including those who have tracheostomies, tracheoesophageal punctures, laryngectomies and partial or full glossectomies.

“I admire the skillset of the speech-language pathologists who are part of the head and neck cancer patients’ journey before, during and after cancer treatment because they work alongside these patients clinically to evaluate and treat and also provide counseling skills to them and their family members.”

Although Sher is not sure which patient population she wants to work with after she graduates, the MD Anderson internship will improve her overall skills and knowledge and make her a better clinician.

“Working at MD Anderson will give me the experience of being in a fast-paced hospital, collaborating with several other professionals, and growing my knowledge about the cancer population,” said Sher. “I also think it will impact me personally because of the role the SLP has in the life of a patient with head and neck cancer. SLPs have the chance to be a key, supportive figure in the personal life of a person with head and neck cancer and are unique in this setting because they work with the patient throughout radiation, chemotherapy and surgery.”

The opportunity to learn alongside professionals in a world-class institution is highly competitive, takes hard work to achieve and deserves acclaim.

“The SPHS Department is proud of Kendyll’s achievements and confident that she will do well in this setting,” said Karen Saar, director of LU’s Clinical Services in

Speech and Hearing Services. “We are pleased that Kendyll is getting recognition for how hard she is working to develop excellent clinical skill and knowledge.”