"Don’t let anyone tell you there is only one way to do something, one way to teach, or one curriculum that is better than the other. The best SLPs are able to adapt and pull from multiple resources in order to develop the best speech program for his/her clients."
Here, I am practicing passing a nasoscope through a colleague's nose.
My career roadmap has been somewhat defined.
I knew from a young age I wanted to choose a career path that focused on helping others whether that was as a doctor, teacher, or therapist. I remembered receiving speech therapy in elementary school and called to shadow a speech therapist my junior year of high school.
When it came time to apply to colleges, I had always wanted to live in New York, so I started researching schools and programs that had communication sciences and disorders (speech therapy) along the eastern seaboard.
I graduated with my B.A. from St. John’s in 2.5 years thanks to college coursework done at AOC. I knew my career path was accelerated and I didn’t want to take any breaks for fear of losing momentum. I went straight into a graduate program at Columbia.
I took various jobs working at kid gyms and volunteering for various service programs focused on promoting literacy at public and private schools around the city. I got a good understanding of how the school settings operated.
I didn’t know if I wanted to be a school-based therapist or a medical-based therapist. I took my first nasoscope class where most of the therapists taking the class were licensed speech therapists at a hospital. I realized I loved working at a school as cool as the medical training was.
My second internship during grad school at Clarke Schools for Hearing and Speech helped me further refine my passion as a speech therapist to preschool. So much learning and growth happens even before adolescence and I found the work to be both fun and rewarding.
Unfortunately, I didn’t find a job right away at a preschool. I completed my clinical fellowship at a charter elementary school. It was a great experience and the kids and school were phenomenal; however, I really missed working with preschoolers where learning language was still fun and natural.
Finally, I am a fully licensed speech therapist. Shortly after, my dream job at Clarke offered me a job, but I had to decline because I was moving back to California. I was really lucky; I am currently working at a preschool with a helpful contract company and a supportive administration.
Here are my extracurriculars relevant to this pathway
DURING MY HIGH SCHOOL CAREER
Going to deaf events and learning sign language
Volunteering at schools and meeting with other speech-language pathologists at the schools to find out what their work was like
Other various volunteer opportunities through school and church helped foster my enjoyment for helping others
DURING MY COLLEGE CAREER
College cheer - there were many girls on the team who were also studying in the same program and on the path to become a speech pathologist. They made for great friends and mentors!
Joining America Reads America Serves club in college to help bring a love of literacy to public school students in Queens, NY
Joining the Jump Start organization to work with preschoolers in the Bronx and bring a reading curriculum to their school every week.
Refinding my love for gymnastics and finding an acro group in Central Park. I met so many people from different places and who worked in different fields. I’ve even had the opportunity to work on some fun research and collaborative projects to bring together speech, art, and engineering. We worked during the week and had fun learning new stunts and skills on the weekend.
Landing a job at one of my externships as an assistant so I could continue working with the company and have a possible job after graduation. Two years after working there, I still keep in contact with my old colleagues who have now become close friends.
What I'm currently doing/hope to do
I am currently a contracted speech therapist through Soliant for a school district. I was lucky enough to land my dream position at a preschool working with students ages 3-5 years. I work with a range of students from correcting their articulation to students in special instruction classrooms and we work on cognitive language skills from first words to following directions. I love getting to know the families and helping them carry-over what we work on in the speech room to bringing it home. This is my first year fully licensed and without a supervisor and it’s been quite a tough learning curve, but having a great team and supportive staff and company behind me has made all the difference.
How to maximize my time in high school?
Advice #1: Volunteer, volunteer, volunteer! Whether it’s in a school under a teacher or at a hospital, it will help you decide whether you want to be a school-based SLP or medical-based SLP. They are very different.
Advice #2: Study another language and become proficient at it. There is such a great need for bilingual SLPs and it helps you better connect with the families, especially since so many families don’t speak English. Things get lost in translation, and it’s best for the therapist and teachers to be the bridge in helping parents navigate special education rather than relying on a translator who don’t always translate our lingo and jargon accurately to families.
Advice #3: Don’t let anyone tell you there is only one way to do something, one way to teach, or one curriculum that is better than the other. The best SLPs are able to adapt and pull from multiple resources in order to develop the best speech program for his/her clients.
Advice #4: Be creative, learn to play one game multiple different ways and have fun making your own materials or making up your own speech-related games.
Advice #5: Be fun! No one wants an SLP who only knows how to drill R’s and S’s. Being SLP is so much more than just articulation, you’ll be working with children and adults with various disabilities and diagnoses and sometimes therapy just needs to be fun :)