Ali Insoft (Class of 2020)

photo of Ali Insoft

  • senior major in Speech Pathology & Audiology
  • minor in Disability Studies
  • graduate certificate in Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • from Highland Park, IL
  • president of National Student Speech Language Hearing Association (MU chapter) and Miami Autism Allies Club
  • recipient of Dean's Scholar grant for independent research project related to autism
"Get involved on campus in a variety of organizations, both related and unrelated to your course of study. Miami has a lot of great student organizations that you won't find elsewhere, and it's a great opportunity to find people with similar interests."

Why Miami?

Ali Insoft and friend at 5K fundraiser for Miami's Speech and Hearing Clinic.

"I had heard great things about Miami from others. When I was in high school, a Miami representative came to give a talk, and for me there were just a lot of attributes that really stood out, especially the size of the classes and lots of opportunities for undergraduate students.

"Originally I was a special education major, but I was really interested in doing undergraduate research and realized the areas that I was interested in actually aligned with Miami's Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology. I didn't really know much about speech pathology before looking into the program, but when I started looking further and took some classes I realized it aligned more with my interests. That's why I switched!

"On top of that, I always knew I wanted to work with children with autism but assumed that special education would be the best route. I was happy to learn that I could also do that through speech pathology."

Best Miami Experiences

"I'm the student president of the Miami Autism Allies Club, where we try to raise awareness of the autistic community on campus and provide a strong allyship for those students. We want to create a comforting and welcoming environment and provide educational resources for students interested in going into the field of autism, whether that be research or education. We have about 30 people in the club, and we also provide community service opportunities.

"I'm also the Miami chapter president of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association, which is a professional organization for pre-speech majors or speech pathology and audiology majors. We provide service opportunities, fundraise for Miami's Speech and Hearing Clinic here on campus to financially support people who are using the services, and hold social events. We provide information on how to get involved in research on campus and what it looks like to apply to graduate programs.

"Honestly, some of my best experiences as a Miami student have been with people in my speech path classes. The field can feel very competitive, just as the rumors often say, but you actually get really close with other students. We all work together and not against each other, and I think it's really great that Miami has such a collaborative type of environment in that program!

"I also really love the cool research opportunities I've gotten, primarily in assistant professor of speech pathology Arnold Olszewski's lab. Going in, I'd never thought I'd start doing research as early as my sophomore year."

Miami and the Liberal Arts

"I really like the Miami Plan idea because it gives me an opportunity to go outside of my field of study and gain a broader perspective. Besides my major classes, I've really enjoyed my humanities courses, like one on classical mythology that was a lot of fun. All the classes that I've taken, both inside and outside my major, have allowed me to look through multiple angles. I've learned from these various classes that in order to understand others you need to have a bigger picture of things. You can't really look at something through just one lens!"

Research on Child Literacy

Ali Insoft and friends at a community service event

"Since sophomore year I've been conducting undergraduate research in Dr. Olszewski's lab, which is called Children's Acquisition of Language and Literacy (CALL). What we do is look and observe different methods of literacy acquisition for children. We have different types of studies, and there are different fields within the lab, but mostly we code videos and do diagnostic testing. The study is one year-long, so we are still collecting data.

"In addition to this research, I am currently working on an independent research project with Dr. Olszewski. This project, which was funded by the Dean's Scholar Program, is focused on analyzing and observing the shared reading habits of parents of children with autism with the parents of children who are typically developing. We compare the types of reading that they do and literacy in the household. I'm planning on presenting my research next spring at both the Ohio Speech Language Hearing Association and the Miami Undergraduate Research Symposium."

Advice to Students

"My advice to all students is to get involved on campus in a variety of organizations, both related and unrelated to your course of study. Miami has a lot of great student organizations that you won't find elsewhere, and it's a great opportunity to find people with similar interests.

"For students majoring in speech pathology and audiology, I suggest getting involved in research early. Research has been one of the best parts of my college experience and has prepared me for graduate school. Research also allows you to delve into specific interests in areas that may not be as thoroughly covered in classes."

[November 2019]