Spotlight on Natural Sciences Alumni: Kate Kelliher

kelliherName: Kate Kelliher

Occupation: Graduate Student

Education (UR and additional): University of Rochester, class of 2011: Brain and Cognitive Science, Linguistics, American Sign Language. Beginning Fall 2013 Bowling Green State University, Masters (2015?) and Ph.D. (2018?) in Speech Language Pathology

Current city/state/country of residence: Bowling Green, OH

Current Community activities: Rowing, bicycle touring, young adult group at church, swing dancing (none of these are in OH as I will be starting there next week but they are some highlights from Baltimore where I have been for the past 2 years)

Why did you choose to attend the University of Rochester?

I chose to come to UR for a variety of reasons, but the freedom to take the classes that interested me was certainly a huge factor. The BCS major intrigued me from my first visit and I wanted the chance to explore it further, an opportunity not available at many schools. The deciding factor, however, was probably the friendliness I encountered when visiting campus. That was what let me know this was a place I could not only get a wonderful education and build a strong foundation but also be truly happy.

When and how did you choose your major(s)?

I started out thinking I might be a BCS major which led me to take two classes in this field my first semester. I liked them well enough that I loaded up on the classes I would need for a major that spring which not only held my interest in BCS but introduced me to linguistics. I loved that too so took a few more classes and then didn’t want to choose so avoided the decision by working out a plan to major in both. Tweak that a bit to add in an ASL major, I had planned to take at least a few classes from day one, and you have a rather full schedule for a girl who just doesn’t like to pick just one of the things that interests her. So I chose my majors relatively early and they seemed to fall into place without my giving it too much thought, the choice was just clear. 

What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?

I was a member of the women’s rowing team and that shaped my experience at UR from my third day on campus. It took a large chunk of time every week and forced me to be organized and budget my time. It honed my discipline, commitment, teamwork, and ability to push past perceived limits. These skills spilled over into my academic life and I firmly believe I would not have had the same level of academic success, nor have been as well equipped upon graduation, without being a varsity athlete. It also introduced me to a second family and the majority of friends I have kept in touch with post graduation have been rowers. The other group that was essential to my experience at UR was the Catholic Newman Community. Whereas rowing gave me a place to push myself Newman gave me a place to relax and reflect. This was my place where I could shed pressures and forget about the cares that build up, where I could refocus on what is important in life and put things in perspective. Newman gave me opportunities to give back through St. Sebastian Society, chances to get away with Kairos, and the weekly opportunity to sit down for a nice family style dinner among friends. It is the balance between these two groups that allowed me to keep myself on track.

What did you do immediately after graduation?  How did you decide to take this path?

After graduation I began working as a research assistant at Johns Hopkins University in the Language and Cognition Lab. I worked in a lab for three years during my time at UR, but before committing to grad school I wanted to try on full time research and see how I liked it. I HIGHLY recommend doing something similar to all new graduates, I have learned more than I ever could have imagined.

What do you do now and why did you choose this career?

I am starting grad school in speech-language pathology this fall. I picked this field because I believe it will allow me to balance my passions for research and helping people on an individual basis. Fingers crossed it goes well!

Where would you like to be in five years?

Graduating with Ph.D. in hand.

What advice do you have for current students?

Have fun and follow your heart. Do something that makes you feel happy and fulfilled, that matters far more than what the world thinks.