Involvement in research and student clubs is preparing one student for a career in helping others communicate more effectively
Helen Pu is finding ways to pursue her passion of helping others through opportunities in the College of Health and Human Development and at Penn State.
Helen says she always knew she wanted to be in a helping profession, but until she became a Communication Sciences and Disorders major, she wasn’t sure which career was right for her. She likes CSD because it opens up a variety of career paths, all of which focus on serving others. “It doesn’t bind you to any one setting—you can work with any population, from kids to the elderly, in any number of locations,” she says.
While all of the CSD courses she has taken have been beneficial, Helen especially liked several American Sign Language courses she took. She found them very interesting because the instructor, Dr. Alfred Corrado, is deaf. “It was great getting his perspective. He had stories from growing up that you can’t read anywhere else, like the first time he discovered music,” she says.
A Schreyer Scholar, Helen is researching fast mapping, a theoretical process through which people are thought to unconsciously learn language. Working under the guidance of Dr. Krista Wilkinson, professor of communication sciences and disorders, Helen is studying this theory in people with Down Syndrome.
Helen, who is also minoring in Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS), is taking advantage of the close ties among departments in the College of Health and Human Development. She was a research assistant in the HDFS department. There, she worked with HDFS faculty member Dr. Mayra Bamaca to study adolescent development in Latino-origin girls. Helen is also a teaching assistant for an HDFS class on infant development.
Involvement in several student organizations is adding to Helen’s education at Penn State. She is secretary of the HHD Honors Society, through which she has the chance to meet students from majors across the College of Health and Human Development and help plan service events. As a member of the student chapter of the National Student Speech-Language-Hearing Association, she has the opportunity to serve the community and attend national conventions for speech, language, and hearing professionals.
The CSD faculty members have made a last impression on Helen. “The faculty are very helpful and knowledgeable, and it doesn’t matter if you’d had a class with them or not. They really help to guide students when they may be confused,” she says.
With the exposure to the profession and the deeper appreciation of different cultures she is getting, Helen will be prepared to help and serve others in her career.