Sophia Draper

August 19, 2022

What attracted you to the Speech Language Pathology field?

I have always known that I wanted to work with people, doing something dynamic and fun, that is slightly different every day. I considered many different careers, from doctor to child-life specialist. While I was in high school, my dad sent me some information about how SLP is an in-demand profession. Initially, I wrote it off – I’m not just going to do what my dad thinks I should do! Then, about a year later I found SLP again, and realized that it actually sounded fantastic. Helping people communicate sounded perfect to me, and I loved the idea of a career in which I got to use my creativity to problem-solve and find fun and effective ways to help children. SLP is about so much more than children, but helping children is my key motivation for becoming a Speech Language Pathologist.

A big aspect of the SLP application seems to be volunteer experience. What kind of volunteer experience did you have? How did this experience relate to your goal?

Volunteer experience is necessary not just to look good on your application, but to learn about your interests within the profession, and to make sure that this is a field you really are passionate about (which in turn, will help you out on writing your application). My first exposure to SLPs in action was at the Down Syndrome Resource Foundation (DSRF) in Burnaby. I worked as a camp counsellor for two summers and had many opportunities to shadow SLP sessions with children and young people with a range of communication abilities. Over the next few years, I attended an SLP’s sessions once a week with a specific client, went back to DSRF and volunteered for an SLP-led improv program that focused on social communication, helped out with the Vancouver Learning Disability’s Society PEERS Social Skills program, volunteered and worked as an RA in SFU’s Language Learning and Development Lab, and then spent a year after I graduated working as a special education assistant at Greater Heights Learning Academy, where I was able to join SLP sessions and help run therapy groups.

Working at a school as a special education assistant was something I wasn’t expecting to do, but that really helped me – I don’t have an EA certification, but I learned from an SLP that you can be qualified to work in private schools if you have related experience! Even if you don’t work at a school that has a lot of SLPs on staff, getting teaching experience is extremely valuable as SLPs are really specialized teachers.

Working with Henny Yeung in the Language Learning and Development Lab was fantastic. I learned so much from him about research, teaching, working as part of a team, and of course language development and communication. During this time I got to participate in the research process beginning with the planning stages of a project, all the way to running my first participant, and really gave me an appreciation for all of the work that goes into running a study. I highly recommend getting to know your professors and volunteering in a lab.

What are you most looking forward to as part of the McGill program?

There are many things I’m looking forward to, such as having a selection of courses that is specifically tailored to exactly what I want to do in life, and going through it all with a group of 29 other like-minded people! McGill provides practical experience from the beginning of the program, and I’m very excited to have the opportunity to put what I’m learning into practice right away. Also, finally, DOING IT – McGill was the first acceptance I got, and I clearly remember immediately bursting into tears, FaceTiming my family, and saying “I’m going to be an SLP!” It’s so exciting to know that what I have been working toward the past 6 years is really going to happen. And, of course, I’m very excited to live in Montreal for two years!


  • LING 290: The Science of Speech
  • LING 350: First Language Acquisition
  • PSYC 359: Developmental Disabilities
  • PSYC 365: Health Psychology


If you are considering SLP, shadow and volunteer with an SLP as soon as you can! Bridging the gap between learning about SLP and communication in unviersity and volunteering with SLPs in the real world is so helpful. Finding a place to volunteer can be tricky, but you just have to keep trying and approach different organizations. All of my experience is with kids, so I recommend trying schools, specialized therapy centres, and non-profits and private practices.

Another thing that makes SLP applications daunting is the number of prerequisites, especially if you are applying to several different schools. The linguistics advisor, Rita, is extremely knowledgeable and helped me immensely. As well, the SFU Speech and Hearing Club puts out a master list of each Canadian program's requirements. I would go through all the requirements about once a year to make sure I was on track.

There's no getting around the fact that SLP is a very competitive program to get into. Apply to different schools and open yourself up to new experiences. I know that UBC is the top choice for a lot of SFU students, but it definitely isn't the only program. All the Canadian programs are very good and are going to give you the education and practicum experiences you need.