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UW Graduate Publishes Work on Native American Caregivers

April 23, 2021
three people talking in a busy room
Kyliah Ferris, third from left, presents her thesis study at a poster presentation at the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association Convention in 2019 in Orlando, Fla. (UW Photo)

Kyliah Ferris, of Rawlins, a recent graduate of University of Wyoming’s Division of Communication Disorders, recently had part of her master’s thesis accepted for peer-reviewed publication in the journal Topics in Language Disorders.

Ferris earned her Bachelor of Science in speech, language and hearing science as well as her Master of Science in speech-language pathology.

“I was provided many opportunities to not only expand my clinical knowledge, but to develop my own research projects,” say Ferris, expressing appreciation to her cohort and all of the faculty members in the division who supported her growth as a speech-language pathologist.

Ferris primarily has been involved in research pertaining to culturally and/or linguistically diverse children and their families. This research aimed to identify potential culturally competent early-language intervention strategies.

She recently completed a qualitative research article with Professor Mark Guiberson, division director, and Erin Bush, assistant professor of neurogenic communication disorders, describing the developmental priorities of Native American caregivers and their clinical implications.

Ferris’ Northern Arapaho and Hispanic cultural background shaped her decision to pursue this research. She hopes to use her research experience as a way to give back to her community.

“I hope my research can contribute to the cultural competence of other speech-language pathologists and providers to better serve children and families from diverse cultural backgrounds,” says Ferris, who believes that providers will be better able to serve children and families from diverse cultural backgrounds.

Asked what advice she would share with health care providers, Ferris encourages those working with individuals from Native American and other diverse backgrounds to always continue to expand and grow their cultural competence.

She says ethnographic interview techniques could be a valuable tool in understanding the cultural background, values and/or beliefs of any individual or family, leading to intervention strategies and approaches that are more culturally inclusive.

Ferris is now a clinical fellow speech-language pathologist at Project Reach Early Intervention Center and Preschool in Rawlins. Her favorite part about the profession of speech-language pathology is “the wide scope of practice,” as she is able to do something different every day.

“I also really enjoy working with clients and their families,” she says. “It is rewarding to see their growth.”

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