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So...Why did you choose Speech Pathology as a Career?

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Hello all.


I thought I would start a thread about something a little less stressful than most of the posts about grad schools, GPA, GREs, professors taking their sweet time on your LOR, crying over a B, etc. I find it fascinating how many people found their way to this profession. Even if there is no big "aha" moment or heart-wrenching story, it is fun to hear how people came to choose this out of the thousands of other possibilities for a career. 


I will start.


I found my way here in a non-traditional way. I entered my undergrad not completely sure of what I wanted to do. I started college knowing these things though: 1. I loved learning about the nervous system 2. I loved psychology 3. I liked science (despite a high school teacher telling me point blank that I would never be able to succeed in a scientific discipline...I find humor in this now). And so, I decided that I wanted to pursue a BS in psychology. I figured I would decide which area of psychology I wanted to go into as I progressed. I excelled in my courses and really had a niche for the neuro part of psychology. Because of this interest, I declared a biology minor so I could take more human biology/anatomy courses to learn more about the nervous system. It was in my junior year/summer before senior year that "fate" really set in for me. I did volunteering at an inpatient rehab floor of a large hospital and loved interacting with patients and hearing why they were at the hospital. Shortly after, I had decided to complete an internship giving neuro assessments at a hospital. My internship allowed me to interact and assess people with disorders that spanned from brain damage to Huntington's to schizophrenia to aphasia. I took a particular interest in individuals with aphasia *cue inspirational music* 


From my time at my internship, I knew what I needed to be doing was working with people with neurogenic disorders. But how? My psychology professors steered me in the direction of neuroscience. I completed research and teaching assistantships related to neuroscience topics. Awesome, that would be the perfect career for me, right?! Wrong. I went through all the motions of applying to neuro grad schools my senior year only to find out too late that it wouldn't be a fit for me. I wanted to be a clinician of sorts. I needed interaction with clients, and not just to be on the research end of things or teaching at a university. And thus, I did not attend graduate school for neuroscience. Meanwhile, I was(still am) working at a group home with individuals with speech disorders among other disorders. I loved everything about my job, including doing speech lessons with them but never thought much of it. I thought long and hard and put all the pieces of the puzzle together which brought me to the wonderful field of speech pathology. I did my research on the profession and found out exactly what needed to be done for me to be successful. I took the post-bacc plunge fall 2014 and worked my butt off, respectively. I have never been happier with my education this far. I feel like I am learning about things that I am actually passionate and curious about. I am going into my second semester of Comm Disorders classes and applying to master's programs as I type this. I look forward to taking clinical this semester as well. 


Whew, long story. That was even a condensed version.




What brought you to decide to pursue a career in Speech-Language Pathology/Communication Disorders? 

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My short version of a long story:


I graduated high school with no idea of what I wanted to do in life. I enrolled at my local community college to get all of my basics done to transfer to a university at a later time. I found a job at a daycare center and found the field through working with the school aged kids in my class. Many of them received services at their school and I found it fascinating that one person was responsible for helping children with a range of disorders and disabilities. The principal and vice principal had their children enrolled at the center so one day I briefly discussed my interest in the field and asked how I could contact their SLP. I was put in contact with her and I also worked with adviser at the college to find my current university and applied for their undergrad program. The rest is history: graduated with associate's, continued working part time and attending my university, quit my job eventually, became more involved with NSSLHA/volunteering/etc., graduated with two B.S., and now I'm in grad school! :) Without my job, I don't think that I would've ever discovered this field on my own because it seems to be a hidden gem that not too many people are familiar with.

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Yay for stories! For me, I went into college certain that I was going to go into elementary school teaching. All I knew was that I loved working with kids and wanted to work in a field that helps people. I decided on elementary school teaching because kids spend so much of their days at school, and coming from a difficult background, I remember my elementary school teachers being important role-models in my life. So throughout college I volunteered and worked at various places dealing with children, and I began to realize that I enjoyed working more with smaller groups and helping children that are disadvantaged or need special assistance. I started considering other career options such as social work, occupational therapy, or marriage and family counseling, but couldn't decide on one. I had heard about speech pathology at that point, but wrote it off because from what little I knew about it, it seemed really boring and repetitive. I watched a video of a speech pathologist manually assisting a child in saying "ba" over and over again, and I figured that's what all of speech pathology looked like and was not interested.


After college, now uncertain if teaching was really where I wanted to be at, I decided to look for work first instead of going straight into a teaching credential program. Since most of my experience thus far had been related to children and education, I ended up working as a special education aide at an elementary school. I had never worked specifically in special education until then, and I was assigned to work as a one-on-one aide with a fifth grader who had severe autism. He had very low language skills and was basically nonverbal, so he would see the speech pathologist twice a week, and through that I just fell in love with the speech and language aspect of working with the kid. It was so much fun finding ways to help him communicate and it was exciting witnessing small achievements in his language skills. It was also so fascinating because he was able to read and decode written words but not comprehend the meaning. I had never dealt with anything like this before, and I was hooked. 


After working for a year, I considered directly applying to speech-language pathology graduate programs, but having a low undergraduate GPA, I decided to first go through a post-bacc program to both improve my GPA and make certain that this was the field I wanted to be in. I am so glad that I did, because I feel a lot more confident now when I say that this is the field that I want to be in. For the first time in my college education, I was actually motivated and interested in all the post-bacc courses that I took, and did well in all of them. I recently just finished my courses, and am more excited (and nervous) than ever to continue into graduate school. Now I just hope that I can get in somewhere! Hoping the best for everyone here!

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