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New Scholarship Endowments to Aid Speech Language Pathology and Elementary Education Majors

August 21, 2023

David and Judy Sorensen

Being “teachers at heart” went far beyond their professional careers for Adam Sorensen’s parents David and Judy Sorensen; it was just who they were.

Longtime Pocatello residents, David and Judy always valued the teaching profession and its ability to impact others more so than any other profession. Their commitment to education was something they instilled in their children and the countless lives they touched throughout their careers.

As a way to honor his parents’ memory and the connection they had to Pocatello and Idaho State University, Adam recently established two scholarship endowments in his parents’ names: The $50,000 David N. Sorensen Memorial Endowment for Speech Language Pathology Scholarship Endowment and the $50,000 Judy B. Sorensen Memorial Endowment for Elementary Educators Scholarship Endowment. These scholarships were created to help students pursuing careers in their respective fields in speech language pathology and elementary education at Idaho State University.

Originally from Utah, David and Judy moved to the Pocatello area when Adam was in the 8th grade, where David worked as a professor of Speech Language Pathology for Idaho State University. Previously, David Sorensen received his Ph.D. in Speech Pathology from Purdue University in 1980. He then taught at the University of Oklahoma for five years before starting at ISU.

During this time, Adam has fond memories of the Pocatello and ISU community. He remembers his dad focusing heavily on research projects, often, allowing Adam and his siblings to participate. While research was part of David’s role at ISU, teaching and interacting with students was always the root of what he loved to do. David jumped at the chance to help  students where he could and lift them up. Adam credits his dad’s love for teaching in his decision to make a life-long career at ISU. David went on to serve as the chair of the Speech Language Pathology Department and assistant dean in the ISU College of Health Science. David was also a Fellow of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, which he regarded as one of his highest professional honors. Throughout his career, David was seen as an outstanding researcher, published author, and thoughtful leader, but his greatest passion was always teaching and working with his students. David retired from ISU in 2012.

“This is a very fitting tribute to Dr. Sorenson and his dedication to the students of the program in Speech-Language Pathology," said Dr. Kathleen A. Kangas, tenured professor, former department chair and dean. "Dr. Sorenson was a long term faculty member and leader in the SLP program. He was respected by students, faculty and the professional community alike for his expertise in cranio-facial disorders, especially cleft palate. He was a steady leader who left a legacy of strong programs, and he was a caring teacher who will be remembered by generations of students.”

For Adam’s mother, Judy, teaching was something she was equally passionate about. Judy was a master teacher who received her degree in elementary education from Weber State College. After moving to Pocatello, she rediscovered her passion for teaching and started actively substitute teaching for the Pocatello/Chubbuck School district, until she renewed her teaching certificate. Immediately following recertification, Judy accepted a job as a 1st grade teacher for Chubbuck Elementary School in Pocatello, where she stayed for 25 years until her retirement. 

Judy was described as the type of teacher who touched countless lives.

“My mother was the kind of teacher that believed in giving her students hugs if they were feeling down and providing them with that human connection,” said Adam. “She took great pride in creating an environment for her students that was fun and positive.” In Judy’s classroom, she had a library of thousands of books and loved teaching children to read. She created a nurturing space for her students to learn, and build character and self-confidence. She also believed in “talking up” to children and always valued helping each student find and achieve their unique potential. After her retirement, Judy served as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for children.

For Adam, the memory of his parents always circled back to the Pocatello area and the ISU community. Since David’s passing in 2016 and Judy’s passing in 2021, Adam became even more committed to honoring them in a thoughtful and impactful way.

“ISU is a place they both felt a connection and deep affinity towards," he said. "Their passion lied in teaching and lifting others up. These scholarships are a small contribution towards a great good.”

Education is something that Judy and David instilled in Adam and his siblings, and he is grateful for the chance to make a difference with the establishment of these new scholarships. By supporting students pursuing careers in speech language pathology and elementary education, Adam aims to continue his parents' legacy of lifting others up through education.

“I certainly benefited from the generosity of others and had a few scholarships when I went to college,” said Adam. “I am happy to be able to name their scholarships explicitly and toward my parent’s professional areas to help pay it forward.” 

The David N. Sorensen Memorial Endowment for Speech Language Pathology is available to second year graduate students from the ISU Speech Language Pathology program, and the Judy B. Sorensen Memorial Endowment for Elementary Educators is available for ISU elementary education majors with a 3.0 GPA in their junior or senior years. To learn more about scholarship opportunities, please visit isu.edu/scholarships. 


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