Graduate student brings global perspective to CHS

Posted on April 21, 2017
Prasanna Venkataraman in front of a colorful world map

Graduate student Prasanna Venkataraman (pictured above) is emerging as a rising star in the Communication Sciences and Disorders program. Already an experienced Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP), Venkataraman is pursuing his master’s degree at the College of Health Sciences (CHS) to deepen his expertise in the field.

Travelling the world to treat speech-language disorders

Venkataraman first received his bachelor’s degree in SLP from Manipal University in India. He also pursued a specialty in swallowing disorders through distance education at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. From there, he traveled to Brunei, a country in the Borneo islands, where he worked with hospital patients to treat those with neuro-communication disorders and dysphagia. He has also traveled to Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong to attend several professional events.

Professor Marylou Pausewang Gelfer, PhD, CCC-SLP, in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, and graduate program coordinator and director of the Dysphagia Laboratory, praised Venkataraman for his breadth of experience in the field. “Our program benefits from his presence in many ways. As a student in the classroom, Prasanna is always willing to offer global cultural perspectives to the treatments we discuss, which enriches everyone’s learning. His presence has been a good educational experience for our students.”

Getting his credentials at CHS

Venkataraman began his degree at CHS fall, 2016 and plans to finish his degree in summer, 2018. He is currently on the thesis track, working to develop a research project that aims to improve interpretation of videofluoroscopic swallowing study by comparing different methods of interpretation.

Venkataraman spoke highly of his faculty advisor’s expertise. “I will be working closely with Dr. Barbara Pauloski as I complete my thesis. She’s a pioneer in the field of dysphagia and her research made an impact on me during my undergraduate studies. It is a privilege to work with her.”

As a recipient of the Chancellor’s Fellowship, which provides financial support to graduate students working toward completing a thesis, Venkataraman hopes to be able to devote even more time to working in the on-campus and community clinics, treating both adult and child clients. His passion for the work is his primary motivator.

“To be a Speech-Language Pathologist, one must meet the academic knowledge and clinical competency requirements of the American Speech & Hearing Association (ASHA). The curriculum at UWM is perfectly structured to equip all the students with the necessary skills to be a capable SLP.” he said. “I am also proud to be learning from the pioneers in the field of Speech Language Pathology. I know I have made the right choice to be here.”

Making plans for the future

After graduation, Venkataraman plans to pursue a PhD and contribute to the field of dysphagia. “My overall goal is to improve general public awareness of speech-language disorders and treatments and advocate for evidence-based practice.”

Faculty and clinical staff at CHS trust he will do just that. “He has already been such a wonderful addition to the department,” Gelfer said. “His experience as a professional abroad has given us all a lot of food for thought. He is very hard-working, and I am fully confident that he will continue to do great things in the discipline.”