Kailey DeLucry has wanted to work with individuals with intellectual disabilities ever since her younger brother was diagnosed with Down syndrome, but she wasn’t sure how to make that happen.

Now, the soon to be St. Thomas graduate is one step closer to her goal.

DeLucry, of Saint John, NB, has been accepted into the Dalhousie University Speech Language Pathology program and is one of a limited number of students who will take a research-based approach to the post-graduate program.

“I’m doing things a little bit differently,” DeLucry said. “I’m doing a thesis, so I’ll be working with Dr. Janet Ingles. She said I can study Down syndrome and dementia, which is exactly what I wanted to do.”

DeLucry came to St. Thomas unsure of what she wanted to study. After taking a few Psychology courses, she was able to narrow it down.

“My little brother’s development really sparked my interest and after taking some Psychology classes I really liked it. It all just came together,” she said. “I didn’t know how to do it, but I knew I wanted to study some sort of intellectual disability. It turned out that speech pathology was a good fit.”

Once she decided on her path, she was able to take a Developmental Psycholinguistic course that solidified her decision. The other classes she took and the professors she connected with were also helpful in preparing her for the next step.

“The classes really prepare you. Before, I could never do public speaking but now I can do it just fine. Things like that, I don’t know if I would have gotten at a bigger school,” she said. “STU’s size also allows you to match almost one-on-one with professors, so that’s really helpful.”

One of those influential professors was Dr. Michelle LaFrance, who was DeLucry’s thesis supervisor. After witnessing her growth throughout her degree, Lafrance has no doubt DeLucry will thrive as a speech pathologist.

“It was a pleasure to work with Kailey over the past several years. She is an intelligent woman who thinks deeply and critically and has a strong sense of curiosity about the world,” LaFrance said. “She has everything it takes to be an extraordinary health care professional and I think she’ll thrive in graduate school and later as a speech pathologist.”

Throughout her degree, DeLucry has also gained a better understanding of how different social factors can influence development. She believes this will be an added advantage as she continues her education.

“I think I have a better understanding of the clients I’ll be working with, their background and where they came from, not just their speech problem but what’s perpetuating it, what caused it, or why it’s not getting better,” she said.

Early on in her degree, DeLucry pictured herself as having a solely intellectual or research-based career. Now, she’s looking to do more.

“I always imagined I’d be doing academic stuff, but it’s interesting to think now I’ll be more hands-on,” she said. “At first I didn’t think I would like to do that, but I’m excited to see actually change. To think I can make a difference is kind of cool.”