OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADr. Derek Isetti ‘08 is an awardee of the New Century Doctoral Scholarship and he hopes to shed light on voice disorders in the workplace.

Dr. Isetti grew up in Stockton, Calif. He received his master’s degree in speech-language pathology (SLP) at University of the Pacific through the university’s 24-month master’s program. This program allows students with undergraduate degrees outside the speech-language pathology major to obtain a speech-language pathology graduate degree; his undergraduate degree was in the theatre arts. The faculty he interacted with during his master’s program inspired him to pursue a doctorate degree in speech and hearing science at University of Washington.

As a professor he hopes to inspire his students just like he was inspired during his years as a graduate student. As luck would have it – he was given the opportunity to teach back in his hometown. “It’s wonderful to be back, not only in my hometown, but teaching alongside the people that inspired me. I feel like it’s a full circle moment. It’s like I’m returning to my roots.” For Dr. Isetti teaching SLP students is a different way to make an impact on society. “When you become a speech-language pathology professor you’re actually influencing multiple lives through the students. You’re indirectly connected to all of the individuals who will ultimately be served by your students.”

The New Century Doctoral Scholarship Award recognizes doctoral students who are pursuing a worthy research agenda. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation (ASHFoundation) recognized Dr. Isetti with this outstanding research scholarship at their 2013 Convention in Chicago, Ill. The focus of his research is to help individuals with voice disorders who may be negatively impacted in their jobs. Many people may think disabilities in the workplace are strictly physical. His research shows that there is another type of disability that is not visible to the eyes, only to the ears. It is important for employees with voice disorders to understand that they have rights afforded to them under the law.

Graduate school and research can appear daunting, greatly because of the costs. Awards like the New Century Doctoral Scholarship help finance the student’s research and are very uplifting. “It’s also incredibly validating because it lets you realize that I’m not the only who views this research as being worthwhile. Other people in the outside world also think that my research holds value. That’s very rewarding.” He has become so appreciative of his award that he plays an active role volunteering to help the ASHFoundation sell raffle tickets.

Speech-language pathology is a growing yet competitive field. Patients of varying ages can have a number of different communication disorders, from minor speech impediments to neural damage due to strokes. All in all Pacific’s speech-language pathology alumni are equipped with the right education and experience to set them up for a rewarding career.

Dr. Isetti always encourages undergraduate students to pursue studies in speech-language pathology. “For those who have a desire to help others, have strong interpersonal skills, and who are strong academically, I can’t think of a better profession. Because it is so varied, there are so many different patient populations you can choose to work with.” He places an emphasis on learning with a purpose rather than just a grade. “Don’t simply do well in your classes, but also try to shadow other speech-pathologists and try to have as many volunteer experiences as you can because it gets competitive. It’s definitely a competitive field.”



By Sodar Soth '15
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