After working in the preschool setting for 13 years, Julie decided it was time to get her degree. At the same time, Hannah was transferring schools and changing her field of study.
“Mom was researching speech-language pathology as a potential major, and her research is what got me interested,” Hannah said.
That’s when the fun began.
Back to school with a built-in study buddy
Hannah and Julie both started at Missouri State in the communication sciences and disorders program in fall 2017. They graduated together in spring 2020, completing the speech-language pathology track.
Since they started and finished at the same time, they had most classes together.
“I really enjoyed having a built–in study buddy,” Julie said. “I had to start studying material quickly when we entered the program, because it had been so long since I was in school. It helped to always have someone there learning the same things as me.”
Julie also never felt out of place as a nontraditional student.
“Everyone in my classes, from students to professors, were welcoming and I felt like I fit in,” Julie said. “I even got invited to a classmate’s 21st birthday party.”
Both give high praise to faculty and staff in the communication sciences and disorders department—Jennifer Pratt, Hillary Mayes, Dr. Shurita Thomas-Tate and Dr. Alana Mantie-Kozlowski.
“They’re super smart women who are really passionate about what they do,” Hannah said. “And when a professional in the field is passionate, it makes you more passionate about what you’re learning.”
Post-graduate life: Julie
After graduation, Julie started work as a speech-language pathology assistant in the Marshfield R-1 school district. She meets weekly with around 50 students who have language or articulation disorders.
“We do what is called drill and play, which is a back and forth between an engaging game, like Uno, and the speech drills,” Julie said. “I love helping those kids and watching them improve week by week.”
She cites experiences at MSU that paved the way for her career.
“We took a clinical observation class where I got to watch how SLPs treat many different disorders, and I got to assist a graduate student with her child client who had an articulation disorder,” Julie said. “Those experiences prepared me to be a teacher of children with these disorders.”
After achieving her goal of getting a degree, Julie is thankful to be in the position she is in now.
“I feel like I’m finally doing what I was meant to do,” she said.
Post-graduate life: Hannah
Hannah started in the speech-language pathology graduate program in summer 2020. She plans to work with children as an SLP.
“The good thing about this field is that I can work in a lot of different settings,” Hannah said. “But right now, my heart is set on helping kids.”
COVID-19 altered her graduate school experience, but she still sees the value in what she’s learning.
“We are working with clients over teletherapy, which is a COVID alteration,” Hannah said. “But, I am applying all the information I learned during undergrad, and I feel like I’m really preparing for my career.”
She does miss going to school with her mom, but found a way to continue intertwining their experiences.
“I come home and tell her about what I’m learning in class, knowing that she can take that knowledge and use it in her classroom,” Hannah said. “And when I have a child client, I can go to her for advice. We’re still learning from each other every day.”