Can you tell us a bit about your educational and professional background?
I have my undergraduate degree in classics from Bard College in upstate New York. At the end of my time there, although I loved what I’d been doing, I knew I wanted to transition something more applied, more immediately useful.
Why did you choose to attend the University of Washington postbaccalaureate program?
Part of it was because I knew I needed a lot of prerequisites to go into grad school, and UW more than covers them. It seemed like a great place to get a foundation in the field. And the other big part was that I had never been to the West Coast. I used that year as an opportunity to see if I liked the field and to see if I liked Seattle, and I ended up loving both.
Can you explain why you pursued a second bachelor’s degree instead of just completing the speech and hearing prerequisite courses for a master’s program?
I liked that it was one cohesive track that would follow a linear progression, at one university – and such a strong university at that. I really wanted to come into a master’s program with a solid foundation, rather than a degree in something that didn't seem so relevant to speech, like classics, and then try to scrape things together.
I also liked that it was in person rather than online. There were things like research opportunities that I didn't know I was interested in, but were nice to have available when I realized I wanted to learn more. Also, UW has a great clinic on site. This is such a human-focused field; it seemed like UW’s program, which put me in the classroom with other people, offered the best possible learning environment.
Do you think having the bachelor’s in speech and hearing sciences made your graduate program application more competitive?
Definitely. Being at UW provided me opportunities to get involved, from meeting clients to volunteer work to participating in research. If you take those opportunities, that always looks stronger on an application. You're not just filling the requirements; you're really engaging with the material, and with the people in the field who will be your peers later.
Did you gain research or clinical experience during the program?
I worked with a fifth-year doctoral candidate at the UW Aphasia Research Laboratory on a diagnostic study for aphasia and apraxia of speech. She was incredible to work with, as was everyone in the aphasia lab – really extraordinary women, brilliant and so welcoming. Everyone supports each other’s research. It was a great introduction to the research world; I had never participated in any sort of study like that.
Then, in the clinic, we got do our observation hours. Every student has to complete 25 observation hours before they can administer treatment in their master’s program, and I did all of my hours at UW. It was really great to see different kinds of treatment sessions and evaluations, as well as the wide breadth of the populations you can work with.
Can you tell us about your experience with the faculty in the program?
They were excellent. Their teaching styles were incredible and also really varied. You got a sense of the different kinds of people in the field and the different kinds of work that you can do.
I went to a lot of them for advice when I was choosing a grad school. I went to a professor, JoAnn Silkes, who works in aphasia, and she helped me choose Boston University. She is also part of the reason I got to work in the aphasia lab. She's really wonderful.
Was there a sense of community within your cohort?
That was one of the best things about the program. We became really close, especially because we'd had a summer of classes together first before we entered the school year with the rest of the undergrads. We studied together and became really good friends. I lived with a girl in my program, and I'm still in touch with many of my cohort. It's a really nice community.
What would you say are some of your biggest takeaways from this program?
Learning about the great variety of job options and settings you can work in. Also, I really liked the community – the other students and the faculty, which I found really welcoming. The individuals were all incredibly smart and willing to help you learn.
How did this program help shape your educational or career goals?
I thought that I wanted to work with children going into the program. After having two classes and observing a lot in clinic, I learned more about aphasia and really fell in love with it. That's the population I work with now in the Boston University Clinic and the Aphasia Research Lab here, and I plan to continue working with aphasia in my career. I had not been exposed to that previously, and my professors and experiences at UW helped me learn about it.
Would you recommend this program to others?
I would definitely recommend it. I would advise people to get involved both in and outside of the department. It's really valuable and enriching to be involved with your professors and fellow students outside of the classroom.