After graduation, CSD students succeed as leaders in teaching, research, clinical care, and private industry. Here are just a few of their stories.

brienne hennessy

Brienne Hennessy

Graduation Year: 2007
Degree: M.A. Speech Pathology 
Hometown: North Platte, NE

What were keys Iowa provided to you that contributed to your professional success?
I loved my time at UIowa in the Wendell Johnson Speech and Hearing Clinic. I learned that the intensive studies during the master’s program can lay such a rich foundation, and it helped me discern my strengths as well as what I find thrilling about my chosen specialty of voice. I was able to grow leadership skills as the President of NSSLHA chapter. I was grateful for a small cohort in my graduating class, as we supported each other in many areas of our lives at that time. I learned to respect the knowledge of those who came before me, to be enlivened by the passion of those who still felt enjoyment in the work, and to pursue my dreams even when those around me didn’t believe it could be done. I always felt it was a space to ask any questions, create new ideas and have fun with my classmates and colleagues!  

UIowa demonstrated the value for blending the art and the science of addressing communication disorders, to view the whole person comprehensively and to continue learning and growing, all of which remains paramount to my approach today.

Where are you now and how have you applied what you learned?

I am fascinated by how the threads of our lives unfold, and I have the department to thank for being a primary catalyst to my goal of working in the medical setting, specifically in adult voice disorders.  Over the past 14 years, I have had the immense privilege of working at 3 of the top academic voice clinics in the country, to serve in leadership roles for ASHA SIG3, to mentor 5 outstanding Clinical Fellows, to be an invited speaker and published author, and to cultivate relationships I will forever cherish.

In September 2020, I took the big leap from my Senior Speech Pathology Clinician role and started my entrepreneurial journey with my business, Your Vocal Vitality, LLC. The desire to create new ways of working, and serve those beyond current levels of service delivery and accessibility is a gift.

I am now on a mission to elevate the communication and self-worth of women through their voices, guiding them to see and protect the voice for the vital asset that it is, and align with their inner voice to be truly heard as they share their unique messages. The depths of how we communicate with ourselves and with others, and how distortions and dissonance in that exchange can reduce our potential is profound, and yet I know from the incredible transformations in people I have had the honor to witness over the years, the outcomes are life-altering. I am proud to ignite and expand that potential for as many as possible! 

james lewis

James Lewis

Graduation Year: 2010 and again in 2013
Degree: AuD in 2010, PhD in 2013 
Hometown: Huxley, IA

Looking back, what were the keys Iowa provided to you that contribute to your professional success?
The years I spent at Iowa in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders were some of the best of my life (not just because this is where I met my wife!). The clinical, academic, and research training I received have been instrumental in my development as a teacher and researcher. My clinical instructors were such a great model of how to treat others (patients and students alike) with compassion, empathy and respect. They reinforced the importance and necessity of relying on best-practices to guide intervention. Although I don’t practice clinically, the lessons I learned from my clinical instructors have shaped and guided my approach to conducting human research and interacting with my own students.

I cannot say enough about how beneficial the academic and research environment at Iowa was to my own professional development. Looking back, the one thing I appreciate the most was the freedom I was given to explore. Importantly, with that freedom I was also provided the tools to make discoveries. I’m indebted to many at Iowa, especially my PhD mentor, Shawn Goodman. Shawn taught me MATLAB programming, digital-signal processing, and the foundational principles governing acquisition and analysis of signals. These skills have been principal in my development as an independent investigator.

Finally, Iowa gave me a community. My classmates were fantastic, and I treasure the time we spent together. The faculty and staff were so welcoming and friendly, extending hospitality to me and the other students. Moreover, we (students) were treated as equals. I have sought to emulate the hospitality, collegiality and respect I experienced at Iowa with my own students.


Looking back, the one thing I appreciate the most was the freedom I was given to explore. Importantly, with that freedom I was also provided the tools to make discoveries.

What’s your current position, and how have you applied what you learned?
I am an associate professor in the Department of Audiology and Speech Pathology at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Knoxville, TN. I am fortunate to both teach in our AuD program and conduct my own research. As a faculty member, I aim to serve my students in the same manner the faculty and staff at Iowa served me. My primary goal is for my students to succeed and achieve their goals in a welcoming and respectful environment.