After earning a B.S. in Applied Social Science and an M.S. in Speech Language Pathology, Nellyzita Nwosu pursued her doctorate at the Ruth S. Ammon School of Education.
by Cecil Harris“At Adelphi, I realized the importance of doing research to prove there was a need for more bilingual and multicultural educators in our field.”–Nellyzita Nwosu, Ph.D.
In May 2013, Nellyzita Nwosu became the first to earn the Ph.D. in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Adelphi University. Dedicated to treating multicultural children, Dr. Nwosu’s dissertation—“The Effect of Specific Training for Preparing Speech and Language Providers Who Service Children from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Backgrounds”—called attention to the need for more bilingual and multicultural practitioners.
“A lot of children who are bilingual or from cultures that teachers are not familiar with are sent to special education, and then they’re stigmatized as special ed kids,” Dr. Nwosu said. “There are standardized tests that those kids do poorly on, but in fact the child is bilingual and may be just mixing up words.”
Dr. Nwosu, a native of Nigeria, has 14 years of experience working with speech-impaired and hearing-impaired children in New York City, including the past nine years at P.S. 69 in ethnically diverse Jackson Heights, New York.
After earning a B.S. in Applied Social Science at Binghamton University and an M.S. in Speech Language Pathology at Syracuse University, she pursued her doctorate at Adelphi’s Ruth S. Ammon School of Education. Adelphi has a part-time program for those seeking a Ph.D. Conversely, the City University of New York requires students to enroll full time.
“Adelphi’s program has a clinical focus,” Dr. Nwosu said. “I love the hands-on work with the kids, to try to figure out the puzzle. And at Adelphi, I realized the importance of doing research to prove there was a need for more bilingual and multicultural educators in our field.”
As part of her doctoral program, Dr. Nwosu worked with faculty advisers Elaine Sands, Ph.D., and Reem Khamis-Dakwar, Ph.D., to develop a DVD showing ESL teachers interacting with children from diverse backgrounds. The project included a seminar at Adelphi in which teachers learned to treat such children and work with families for whom English is not the primary language.
“If you work in New York schools,” Dr. Sands said, “you can’t do your job effectively if you don’t know if the child has a speech or language impediment or if the student just doesn’t understand English.”
Dr. Nwosu, who lives in South Floral Park, New York, said she eventually wants to provide multicultural training for speech language practitioners—although her plate is quite full as a married mother of two sons–Jide, 5, and Tobenna, 3–who works full-time.
“I learned a lot about myself while working on my dissertation—determination is the key,” she said. “I didn’t have as much time to spend with my boys because I was at P.S. 69 or Adelphi or writing papers. I did it all on three hours’ sleep a night. I can’t say enough about my husband, Patrick. He was there for me listening, advising and supporting me. And I can’t thank Adelphi enough. I felt like I had a family at Adelphi. I don’t know if I could have done it anywhere else.”
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