Alumni Profile: Jill Chernecki
Jill Chernecki graduated from SFU in 2014, with a Major in Linguistics and an Extended Minor in Psychology. After seeing first-hand the devastating effects that strokes have on language, Jill was inspired to pursue work in speech-language pathology. She applied to the Master of Science Program in Speech-Language Pathology at UBC and started the program in September 2015. Now in her second year, Jill reflects on her studies at SFU, the process of applying to graduate school, and on her experience thus far in the SLP program.
On preparing to apply to graduate school while at SFU:
While I was at SFU, I did not work in a linguistics lab, though I wish I had. Many of my classmates did work in linguistics and psychology labs during their undergrad and found it very useful for getting in to the program. I ended up being extremely fortunate and had the opportunity to work with an SLP on a research project after I graduated from SFU.
During my undergrad I didn't do any volunteer work or get any speech related work experience. I definitely wish that I had done this because I ended up spending a year getting work and volunteer experience to make my application competitive after I graduated.
On the grad school application process:
The Letter of Intent (LoI): My LoI was not as strong as it could have been and if I had to do the application again, it would definitely be something I would work on. The LoI gives the admission committee a chance to get to know you and it allows you to go more in depth (than you would on your resume) into the experiences you have had and how they impacted you. You should have as many people as possible read the letter – especially professors or friends who recently gained admission to graduate school.
Obtaining references: I selected references that I had spent quite a bit of time talking to outside of class. I focused more on the quality of the relationship I had with the professor rather than the grade I received in the class. In order to make sure that I stood out to them I went to office hours and talked to them after class. I also asked them questions to show that I was interested in the material. When asking for a reference it’s always a good idea to do it in person as it shows that you are genuinely interested, and the professor likely has many students and may not recognize your name if you send an email.
On the first year in the program:
The workload: The workload during the first semester was very intense but everyone (in the cohort) made it through. UBC is a lot bigger then SFU but all of the SLP classes are held in one building; it’s easy to forget how big the campus is! I think my biggest challenge has been letting go of the competitive nature of undergrad. The UBC program is very collaborative and the competitive aspect is gone.
What Jill would have done differently:
I think the best thing I could have done during my undergrad would have been to volunteer in a research lab and to get as much volunteer experience working with different populations as possible.