An Invite to the Party
By Tamer Abouras
No matter what you attend college for, one of the incredibly annoying things you’re treated to upon graduation is the deluge of career-placement and human resources types essentially asking the same thing: Who invited you?
For some odd reason, all those classes where you debated complicated theories and all those internships where you fetched coffee suddenly seem to be a little less useful and you, the poor student shackled in debt who was previously told he had to go through that process, seem to be not so subtly blamed for your lack of so-called adequate preparation.
It’s a comically unfair argument and one you’ll ultimately find your way around, but for those fortunate enough to be part of a program or a department that actually does a little bit of fieldwork pre-graduation (such as those enrolled in a speech-language pathology graduate program), you know how valuable that can be — and how (grudgingly) right the whole “this isn’t college anymore” talking point can end up seeming.
The reasons for going to a university were once much more intellectually aspirational than they are now — though no one seems to have bothered to inform the English lit majors — but realistically, the self-improvement aspect of obtaining a degree always had somewhere in its roots the notion that it could also serve to make you more employable and financially prosperous.
For students enrolled in Baldwin Wallace University and Jacksonville University’s SLP programs, the benefits of fieldwork aren’t just for them — they’re making a huge difference in their respective communities also.
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At Baldwin Wallace Speech Clinic, a 43-year-old free community clinic led by Christine Needham, a professor of communication sciences and disorders, “Professors and students help clients cope with physical, cognitive and other challenges in speaking, listening, swallowing, singing and related tasks,” according to Cleveland.com.
And according to those who attend and bring their children there, the clinic gets results.
Per Cleveland.com, Mary Frances Heuer said her four year-old daughter Kaylyn “ … Couldn't make herself clear to her family before enrolling here in September. Now she can communicate with acquaintances.”
Said Heuer, "It's a great opportunity for the young students and for the clients,” while Needham added “Anyone can come and get the help they need to communicate with their families, participate in work activities and increase their quality of life."
Meanwhile, down in Jacksonville and according to WJCT News, “Duval County Public Schools will use Jacksonville University speech-pathology students as instructors at the dyslexic-focused GRASP Academy.”
According to school board Superintendent, Nikolai Vitti, “Those interns that will be servicing students at GRASP, as far as speech is concerned, (and) we’re hoping to recruit them as full-time employees after their education is completed so that we’re building a pipeline or a bench of speech-language pathologists, so we’re not relying as heavily on contracted services going into the future.”
District-wide, Duval is reportedly short 13 speech pathologists, so this initiative has the very real potential to be mutually beneficial for the children as well as the SLP students — a welcome departure from fields where graduates can walk in feeling like an intruder.
Perhaps most importantly, there won’t be any plausible argument that these students aren’t prepared.