Dr. Denise Barnett is one of the first faces to greet incoming students in the Communication Sciences and Disorders Department. And she can definitely relate to these students. After graduating high school, Barnett left her hometown of Monahans to come to ACU and major in speech-language pathology. She had never even seen the campus before her parents drove her to Abilene and helped her move into McKinzie dorm.
“It didn’t take long before I was in love with the place,” she recalls. “ACU began shaping me when I came here as a student and continues to do so today.”
Today, Barnett brings a wealth of experience to the CSD department, where she serves as assistant professor and undergraduate adviser for her department. She has worked as a speech-language pathologist for the Monahans-Wickett-Pyote ISD and Abilene ISD, and as an elementary teacher for Andrews ISD. Before joining the ACU faculty, she worked in private practice and as a consultant for area schools and home health agencies.
Barnett is passionate about serving not only her own family, but also those in the community. “I love doing for my family, for friends and for strangers,” she says. “Often this means taking food to others, cleaning homes, hospital visits, etc.” She also loves serving her students and says, “My favorite days of each semester occur when my classes come to my home for meals.” She teaches her students to serve the community, as well, by taking them once a month to host bingo for the residents of University Place Retirement Community.
“Working with my peers and the great students encourages me on a daily basis to be the best person I can be personally, professionally and spiritually,” she says.“In turn, I try my best to encourage others in their walk.”
Q & A with Dr. Barnett
What is your favorite part about teaching?
The students! I love finding new and different ways to present the material and then watching as the lights come on in my students’ eyes. I’m really enjoying the new technology we have available and finding ways to implement it into my courses.
What are some of the things that make your department exceptional?
Our faculty is second to none. Each professor has experience in both the classroom and in the clinical setting, so that provides our students with incredible perspectives. Our undergraduate program produces students who are eagerly welcomed into graduate programs throughout the country. And students in our graduate program generally graduate with jobs in hand. We have wonderful students.
What is your advice to someone interested in speech pathology as a career?
Shadow a speech-language pathologist in your community. Whether it’s in the schools, a hospital or a nursing home, follow a professional around for a day and see what he or she does. And if you’re interested in foreign languages, especially Spanish, take all the classes you can in high school. The opportunities for bilingual speech-language pathologists are limitless.