Q&A with past Outstanding Alumni Award recipient, Susan Dalebout

Susan Dalebout is a 1974 graduate and a 2014 Outstanding Alumni Award recipient. She received her bachelors in 1974 and her master’s in audiology and speech sciences in 1975. She served as assistant dean for student affairs in the College of Education since 2008 and retired in 2019 from her position as head of the Student Affairs Office.

Why did you decide to pursue a career in academia?

I knew I wanted to pursue a career in academia when I was an undergraduate student in audiology and speech sciences (now communicative sciences and disorders). I wanted to be part of a community of scholars dedicated to creating new knowledge, solving complex problems and striving to make the world a better place. I loved everything about university life.

How has earning a degree from ComArtSci made an impact on your pursuit of an academic career?

I was not confident that I had the talent for an academic career until I completed the intellectually rigorous CSD master’s degree program. I had the opportunity to study with faculty who were pioneers in my field, and the research-based program was excellent preparation for the doctoral program I would later complete at another university.

What advice do you have for students currently in ComArtSci looking to pursue academia after graduation?

Take courses that challenge you! Courses you find difficult will stretch you intellectually. I wish I had understood this when I was younger. For example, as a member of MSU’s Honors College I had the privilege of opting out of university requirements (Honors College membership looked very different at that time.) Never having enjoyed math, I opted myself out of all math courses. I thought I had been clever until I found myself in advanced statistics and research courses as a doctoral student. Don’t avoid what is hard for you.