Aspiring SLP receives Mitacs award for research project in France
Inspired to help special needs children with developmental language disorders, Clarissa Montgomery is working toward a career path as a speech-language pathologist (SLP). In pursuit of that goal, Montgomery complements her health sciences degree program with an extended minor and a certificate program in linguistics.
This past summer, Montgomery turned her interest in language development into a research term in France. Through funding from the Mitacs Globalink Research Award, Montgomery spent three months collaborating with researchers from the Laboratoire Ethologie Cognition et Développement (LECD) at Paris Nanterre University.
As an aspiring SLP interested in working with children, the research project on neonatal imitation and language preference was the perfect fit for Montgomery. With the guidance of LECD researchers, she studied the likelihood of newborns to imitate faces that speak their mother's native tongue.
"My work in France allowed me to grow as a researcher, acquiring new skills and knowledge," says Montgomery. "Living abroad also made me grow as a person—it taught me so much that is applicable to everyday life as well."
When Montgomery first heard about the Mitacs Globalink Research Award, the opportunity to travel abroad on an international research project enticed her.
"I remember thinking that it sounds like a cool experience, but not something that I of all people could do," says Montgomery, who currently works as a research assistant at the Language Development Lab. "Then I thought about it a little more, and after seeing that I was eligible, it was an opportunity that I just couldn't turn down."
Looking back, Montgomery is grateful that she applied for the award. The research term was a rewarding experience that has encouraged her to continue pursuing research alongside her long-term goal of becoming a SLP.
"I would absolutely encourage other undergraduate students to participate in Mitacs," says Montgomery. "I have nothing but positive reflections of my experience in France."