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Honestly Speaking...

Name: Autumn Zurek
Class Standing: Sophomore
Major: Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology (SPLAD)
Interviewed by: Rachel Arner

 

What is speech-language pathology?
A simple definition: speech-language pathology is a profession where clinicians diagnose and treat people with speech and language problems.

What are the classes like? What material is covered?
For the most part, our classes are pretty standard like any other class. Many professors try to make the class period interactive so that we stay engaged and so we can have some practice actually doing whatever it is we’re covering. Our classes consist of learning the anatomy and physiology for speech and swallowing, which basically involves everything except the upper and lower extremities. Also, we learn how to transcribe words based on their sounds by using the International Phonetic Alphabet. We learn about the anatomy and physiology of the outer, middle and inner ear, as well as the disorders associated with each one.

Do speech-language pathologists work in hospitals, clinics?
Speech-language pathologists work in a broad variety of settings. They work in hospitals, clinics, schools, as well as in home settings.

What do speech pathologists even do as part of their work?
There is a whole variety of things speech-language pathologists do. They work with stroke victims, help people who have trouble swallowing, people with traumatic brain injuries, people with language disorders and people who need help articulating words, just to name a few.

Why did you decide to study speech-language pathology?
To be honest, I chose speech-path kind of on a whim. My senior year of high school, I still didn’t know what I wanted to do. I knew that I wanted to help people but I wasn’t sure how I wanted to do it. My mom suggested that I check out speech-language pathology because speech-language pathologists help people, many work with kids, and they’re in high demand. When I visited for Andrews Preview later that year, I sat in on one of Dr. Regal’s audiology classes and I found it very interesting, despite having many pockets of missing knowledge. This field allows me to help people as well as work with kids which are two of my greatest passions. Much prayer from myself as well as my family is what helped me determine that I want to become a speech-language pathologist.

What challenges are there when applying your education to actual work?
Though society is always in need of speech-language pathologists, you won’t necessarily start off working where you want to. Just like any job, you have to start somewhere and many times that is not always where you would prefer. Speech-language pathologists are needed for all ages in all different settings so even though I’d prefer to work with children, I may not start out there. Also, it’s always difficult adjusting to the shift between pure learning and actually applying the knowledge you learn. I think Andrews has a good program here where we get a lot of practice actually experiencing and applying the things we’ve learned in real therapy sessions.

What are your plans after you graduate?
Ideally, I’d like to have a job. However, graduation is several years away and many things in my life can change because God works in mysterious ways. I’m not sure where I’d like to live yet once school is done. My home in Riverside, California and my experience here at Andrews are the only places I’ve experienced living in and even though I like them both, I’m not sure if I’d like to live in either of those places. A lot will depend on where I can get a job as well as where I think will benefit me the most. Ultimately, it will all depend on where God is leading me to go. He’ll lead, I’ll follow.

What advice do you have for freshmen new to the field?
Do the five year program! Andrews gives incoming freshmen interested in speech-language pathology and audiology the opportunity to get their master’s degree in five years as opposed to six. As long as they keep their grades up and do well in all their classes, they have an automatic place going into the masters program. It saves a lot of money and it helps you decide if speech-language pathology is an occupation you want to stick with because you start taking speech classes your very first semester of college. Also, it is so important to dedicate your time to truly learn the material that is given to you in your classes because they all overlap quite a bit. You need to be able to recall information from other classes because different classes build off all the other information you have already learned.

 

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