I cannot put into words how grateful I am for Dr. Tattersall’s dedication to research in the field of speech language pathology, and even more so, her dedication to students who pursue research opportunities in the field. She’s been an advocate for my involvement in this program from the first day that I brought the opportunity to her attention. I walked into her office about two weeks before the application deadline to discuss the details of the program and her interest in serving as my faculty mentor. Her response? “You can’t let opportunities pass you by because you won’t know what would’ve come from them if you don’t apply.” With Dr. Tattersall’s encouragement at my back, I knew that if chosen for the program, I would have excellent guidance throughout the summer. Within a few hours of turning in my application, I was contacted by Dr. Tattersall to let me know that she was notified of my application submission and to congratulate me on completing “step #1” in the process. It’s moments like these—expressions of her continual thoughtfulness—that make Dr. Tattersall stand out among the sea of professors at NIU.
Dr. Tattersall has an outstanding résumé that make her a unique contributor to the professional development of speech-language pathologists and audiologists. Dr. Tattersall’s full time position at NIU demands her divided attention to roles as an instructor at the undergraduate and graduate level, student advisor, and researcher. In the little spare time that she has, Dr. Tattersall has worked to standardize assessments, create an online course, and publish her work. Dr. Tattersall also serves on the licensure board for the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulations and has been heavily involved in the Illinois Speech, Language, and Hearing Association (ISHA). Her involvement in ISHA has included her roles as president of the organization, vice president of the committee of Educational Development, and program chair for the annual convention. It’s no doubt that Dr. Tattersall is active in our field and an expert in her knowledge of language development and literacy in school-aged children. Dr. Tattersall has been such a significant contributor to the field of speech-language pathology that she was recognized by ISHA in February 2015 as a recipient of their highest honors.
Dr. Tattersall’s first response to this opportunity reflects what a proponent she has been for me throughout this entire process. She answers emails swiftly (no matter what time of day or night), always offering encouragement, providing answers to my questions, and generating new ideas to consider. Before beginning this project, I had consulted with another student who had worked under Dr. Tattersall’s guidance in the past. She said that she “couldn’t recommend [Dr. Tattersall] enough” and that Dr. Tattersall does not shy away from putting just as much work into her projects as her students. I couldn’t agree more. Dr. Tattersall has high expectations for her students; however, she does not withhold even a minute of her time to provide direction to students as they work to gain a comprehensive understanding of their topic. She’s spent numerous hours independently and in correspondence with me to look further into a certain topic, clarify an idea, or smooth out the logistics of the project.
The working relationship that I’ve developed with Dr. Tattersall is invaluable. I’ve learned from her that I don’t have to be afraid to jump two feet in to situations that I feel underqualified for. I don’t have to shy away from opportunities that seem “too daunting” or be afraid to ask for help from professors who seem “too intelligent.” This one-to-one mentorship has helped me to understand how much professors delight in the students’ “breakthroughs” and their joy in paving our way to professionalism. I cannot emphasize enough how critical this relationship has been in developing my knowledge about the field and confidence in what I understand about speech and language. A big thank you goes out to Dr. Tattersall for her kindness, patience, and expertise this summer! This project wouldn’t have been successful without her.
by Marissa DeVlieger