Speech and hearing graduate hopes to give future patients a voice

April 24, 2019

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2019 commencement.

Inbal Donenfeld-Peled was doing the mandatory two-year military service her native Israel requires when she met Uri. Born with bilateral congenital deafness, he had cochlear implants, and, because of his disability, the Israeli government wouldn’t allow him to serve his military obligation. inbal donenfeld-peled Inbal Donenfeld-Peled Download Full Image

Uri fought back. He wanted to do his share and make a difference, despite his disability.  

By the time Donenfeld-Peled met him, he had won his case and was an Army cook on the base where she was stationed. As she got to know him, he told her about his speech therapist and audiologist and all they had done to improve his life.

“Rather than limit his goals, they taught him how to compensate for and learn from his hearing disability,” she said. “I remember feeling fascinated by the difference they had made in his life because they gave him hope, determination and a voice. When it came time for me to choose a profession, I knew I wanted my chance to make such an impact on someone’s life.”

Donenfeld-Peled graduates this spring with a bachelor’s degree in speech and hearing science from the College of Health Solutions.

Question: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you, that changed your perspective?

Answer: I learned that passion for what you are studying is what drives your success.

Let's just say I was not the best student in high school. I was completely bored by the material, bored by my teachers who didn't seem like they wanted to be there. I was completely unmotivated. My dad used to wake up with me at 5 a.m. to explain math, and my grandma, who used to be a teacher, helped me study before some of my exams. My parents spent hundreds of shekels getting me private tutors, and still, nothing.

Once I decided I wanted to be a speech therapist, everything changed. I moved to Arizona two weeks before community college began, and right from the start, I was getting straight A’s. It was my first time studying in English, and I spent tons of time in office hours and studying at home. My family was very surprised. Nothing that I was studying had to do with speech, but just knowing that was where I was headed, that passion for the field, drove me to work hard.

When I transferred to ASU everyone told me to adjust my expectations. I heard a lot of, "It's going to be really hard," and, "It's not like community college." But again, I got A's. I showed up to office hours, formed study groups and loved every minute of it. It felt nothing like struggling through class in high school.

My teachers in high school never gave us the time of day between classes, let alone sit with us for a half hour after class to go over the entire slideshow again, one-on-one, just because we didn't understand something, but that actually happened at ASU. My passion for speech and the amazing support I got along the way are what changed my perspective and made me realize that when you really love something, you will succeed at it.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: Many reasons. The diversity of the student body was very important to me because I was coming in as an older student. The prestige of the Barrett college, and the transfer program ASU has with Maricopa County Community Colleges were also factors.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: Don’t be scared to talk to your professors. Once I was sitting in a professor’s office for help before an exam, and he said he wished more students would ask for help because most students don’t come to office hours. I was really surprised because I was a regular at office hours for almost every single class, and I quickly realized the speech professors really wanted their students to succeed and were willing to spend time explaining the material. I got to know my professors and developed a rapport with them which was crucial when I had to ask professors for letters of recommendation for grad school.

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?

A: Who in speech and hearing science has time for a life? We mostly studied in the Coor (Lattie F. Coor Hall) computer commons study rooms, wearing 18 sweaters, three pairs of socks and putting our computer cases over the vents so we didn’t freeze.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I’m going home (to Israel) for some much-needed rest. Probably a lot of sun and beach and hanging out with friends and family. I will start grad school at Purdue University in the fall which I’m really looking forward to.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: I think education is the key to a lot of issues we are facing right now as a society.

I think many of us want to believe that we know everything, and we won't hear differently. We do not want to think that someone might know better than we do, that someone is more experienced than we are. Understanding that people are the same is a realization I hope we all come to one day. As an Israeli I have personally experienced how a lack of this ability can ruin human interaction. Knowing more about the world and each other, being educated in a way that helps us shape our ideas rather than have them dictated to us has immense value. Lack of education divides us, and I think education can bridge these divides.

There is a word in Hebrew: sovlanut. Google says it means “toleration” in English. It means to treat a person or a group with respect, without prejudice, even if they are different than you, regardless of their social, cultural or religious beliefs. As a soon-to-be speech-language pathologist, I also note the importance of advocating this for our clients and their families. I would use $40 million dollars so that every person in the world could have sovlanut in their lives.

Kelly Krause

Media and communications manager, College of Health Solutions

Risks pay off for digital culture student

April 24, 2019

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2019 commencement.

Erick Fowler made a big decision when he chose to go to college 1,000 miles away from his hometown in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Photo of Erick Fowler Erick Fowler graduates this May with a bachelor’s degree in digital culture with a concentration in film and with a minor in design studies. Photo by Campbell Boulanger. Download Full Image

“I had never even been to Arizona before orientation,” he said. “Going against everything else I’ve ever done in my entire life, I decided one of the most important decisions of my life would be an excellent time for me to be spontaneous and choose my college based on pure gut feeling.”

Fowler saw the move as a chance to push himself to leave the nest and become his own person, independent of his hometown. He also was drawn to ASU’s nationally ranked journalism school.

“Coming into college I actually was a journalism major,” he said. “I love a good documentary, and I figured that journalism was the way to me achieving that dream.”

But soon, he realized that journalism was not the right path for him, and he made another big decision.

“From an early age I was filming,” he said. “Growing up I made short, absurd videos. While on assignment for a class, I realized how much I dreaded the process of gathering stories without my camera. So, I decided to fully give into my lifelong love of film and pursue the career of my dreams.”

Fowler graduates this May with a bachelor’s degree in digital culture with a concentration in film and with a minor in design studies.

Fowler not only found the courage to pursue his dream here, but he said he also found the courage to get out of his comfort zone.

“In high school, I was a pretty apathetic kid,” he said. “I went to class, got the ‘A’ and then went home. I didn’t really branch out much beyond that.”

Going to ASU, Fowler said he wanted to change that, but he never could have imagined how much it would actually change him.

“Instead of being this quiet, uncaring teenager, I now thrive on meeting new people and taking on new challenges,” he said. “Coming to ASU opened my mind to the world of possibilities and the wonderful people that are out there.”

Fowler answered some questions from ASU Now:

Question: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?

Answer: In the middle of my senior capstone project, my group and I were struggling to define what exactly our project was and where it was going. What resulted from that was a rather intense conversation with our professors, Kimberlee Swisher and Grisha Coleman. After what seemed to be a barrage of critiques, I remember Kim telling us, “It’s good that we’re having these conversations.” My defensive self immediately was floored. How could something so tense and critical be good? But giving it time and reflecting with my group members allowed me to reframe the situation in my mind. At that moment I realized how to take critiques and make something wonderful with them. If it wasn’t for Kim and Grisha, I don’t know if I would have ever learned that skill that is so crucial to creative work.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: Try everything. Try all you can. Go outside of your comfort zone as much as possible. You never know what you’re going to find out there. Somewhere out there are elements that will make you your best self and people that can become lifelong friends, partners or mentors. There is no better time to grow and explore all that life has to offer than college.  

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?

A: Forest Mall. Especially during the cool days in the fall and spring. I could work, or just sit, on a bench out there for hours while people walk by. There are few places that really give you a scope of how big this university is like Forrest Mall during the middle of the day. Plus, it has been my route from parking to campus and back for the past four years. Not much is better than the feeling of walking to my car after a late night of working.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: Right now, it is to go into the world of media production and travel as much as possible while making time for my own personal artistic endeavors. Wherever I am, I want to make a difference. I crave the feeling of making an impact on someone’s life and I hope to be at a place that allows me to do that with my talents.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: Climate change. There are a lot of issues that are important and in desperate need of financial backing, but I believe that if we don’t at least partially solve the issue of climate change, then we may not last much longer into the future as a species. It’s more dire than we want to realize, and if we don’t do something about it, nothing else will even matter because we’ll be gone.

Sarah A. McCarty

Marketing and communications coordinator, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts