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Dr. Sue Earnest, Distinguished FacultyDr. Sue Earnest

Dr. Sue Earnest (neé Wolfer) was born September 19, 1907 in North Dakota and moved to San Diego at the age of 4. Her mother knew the value of an education, and encouraged Sue and her two younger brothers, James and Don, in their studies. Dr. Earnest excelled in school and started San Diego High School at the age of eleven.

After finishing high school, Dr. Earnest attended San Diego State College. She was a member of several dramatic organizations, including the Skull and Dagger drama fraternity, Drama Club, and Two Masque Players. Dr. Earnest graduated in 1927 and began teaching at Memorial Junior High School, where she combined her love for teaching and her love of theater. During her ten-year tenure at Memorial, she adapted and produced six original plays. Later, she received a master's in psychology (1938) and a doctorate (1947) from the University of Southern California.

In 1947 Dr. Earnest returned to her alma matter, San Diego State College, to begin teaching English, Psychology and Speech. She also spearheaded the development of a Speech and Hearing Clinic in 1950, and in 1952 she began her eighteen-year tenure as the chair of the Speech Pathology and Audiology Department.  Under her direction, the department acquired accreditation from the American Speech and Hearing Association and began offering a master's degree and doctorate in Speech Pathology. The department was also the first on the West Coast to become certified as a training center and community service provider. 

Dr. Earnest retired in 1973. She died on November 8, 2007, just weeks after celebrating her 100th birthday.

Oral History

Download the PDF transcript: Part 1; Part 2; Part 3.

Dr. Earnest's oral history documents her memories growing up in San Diego and her education at San Diego State College before it transferred to the new site on Montezuma Mesa. Of particular interest is Dr. Earnest's account of the creation of the speech department when she began teaching at San Diego State. Dr. Earnest became chair of the Speech Pathology and Audiology Department in 1952, and held the position for 18 years, during which time she saw the department through two accreditations by the American Speech and Hearing Association. The department was the first on the west coast to be certified as a training institution and certified to provide services to the community.

Please note that this oral history was not funded by the Adams Endowment for the Humanities.

Recorded on audio cassette, 1973.

Image credit:  Dr. Sue Earnest, Sue Earnest Papers, Special Collections and University Archives

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