Language and our ability to communicate is something many people take for granted. This is a thoughtful and true statement from Evie Andres, a mature BA student with a double major in Psychology and Linguistics. Unlike some students who join the Linguistics program without knowing which career path they will follow, Evie Andres entered the program with a plethora of “real” world knowledge and chose Linguistics knowing that she wanted to pursue speech language pathology. After convocating in June, she will be fulfilling her dream in the Master of Sciences Program for Speech-Language Pathology at UBC.
Evie provided an insightful Q and A that offers current Linguistics students great tips to succeed in their program at SFU.
Q: What are some of the big takeaway skills that you learned while studying linguistics?
A few of the big takeaway skills I developed while studying linguistics would include academic writing, interpreting research and collaborating with others in the department. Linguistics can be challenging and overwhelming at times; reaching out to classmates, T.A.s, and instructors were instrumental to my academic success. Be bold; start study and messenger groups, take advantage of the departments writing centre, adviser help, and faculty office hours. I have learned that reviewing material with others can unlock concepts, provide opportunities to share excitement over learning, generate research ideas, and create connections that can carry you through your degree and beyond!
As a mature student, Evie brings a different perspective on how to prepare, using outside tools to move towards a career in speech language pathology.
Q: A big aspect of the Speech Language Pathology application seems to be volunteer experience. What kind of volunteer experience did you have? How did this experience relate to your goal?
My experience will differ from the majority of undergraduate students. Volunteer, work, and life experience are all critical for your application. I prioritized balancing my academic load each semester to incorporate the extracurricular experiences I felt necessary to present a well-rounded application.
I had worked and volunteered with children and youth with special needs for twenty years before returning to university. I worked for Community Services as a support worker and program coordinator, Ministry of Children and Family Development as a program coordinator and respite caregiver, Fraser Valley Child Development Centre as a program facilitator for the Infant Development Program, and the School District as an education assistant.
My work history and the diversity within the SLP field impressed upon me my lack of experience with the adult population experiencing communication challenges. Through speaking with a former SFU linguistic student, I was connected with the Stroke Recovery Association of British Columbia and an Aphasia Peer Connect Program. The training and education I received through this organization are invaluable!
I discovered that I love working with people no matter the age or ability and, most importantly, that I still have so much to learn! I have learned to develop rapid rapport. I remember reading once that your sphere of influence is only as great as your ability to create a connection. I have learned that humanity, humility, and humour go a long way to developing a connection. I have also become a fierce advocate for adaptation and inclusion, accepting “no” as an invitation for collaborative, creative solution development! As a clinician, the ability to relate to your patients and collaborate with caregivers and other professionals is central to effective therapy.
Many graduate schools emphasize the importance of research involvement and competency. I was encouraged to get involved in a research lab that resonated with me. I am currently volunteering as a research assistant for the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Lab. I feel honoured to participate in a lab committed to the inclusion of all children in society. I have had the opportunity to learn about research that supports understanding, awareness, and strategies that facilitate maximal quality of life. Beyond research methods and running trials with undergraduate students, I have gained exposure to research practices, planning, funding, ethics, and current research as collaborators from other universities share their research and findings.
Does being a mom count? Lol, not on my resume; however, it did contribute to my letter of intent! I have the inside scoop on being a part of three unique language development trajectories and have experienced both the joys of accomplishment and the worry with challenges requiring intervention. I can empathize with caregivers and understand why written handouts, follow-ups, encouragement, and extra support are significant in mitigating non-adherence for busy, stressed caregivers.
Q: How did you build a strong SLP application?
Awareness of UBC's strong research presence influenced the construction of my undergraduate opportunities and application. My resume was research-focused; I highlighted my psychology research project as the primary researcher, my volunteer experience in the ADDL lab at SFU, and my involvement as a participant in linguistic research studies.
Grades are important. I did my best to create a balance each semester between challenging courses and lighter courses. I was deliberate about choosing electives that I felt would contribute to making me a well-rounded clinician; I referenced the recommended course list by UBC and included courses I found fascinating and applicable.
I had an extensive and wide breadth of work/life experience with those who experience communication challenges and involvement with SLPs in their care team. As a result, I had a list of SLPs and audiologists from school districts to private practice, to Fraser Health that I had worked with to list on my letter of intent.
The letter of intent for UBC was incredibly challenging with a five-hundred-word limit. I started early, went through about a dozen drafts, and had several people involved in feedback and editing. I included my personal experience, academic, clinical, and research aspirations.
I had two professors willing to write me academic references. You will need two academic reference letters. They need to know you, they prefer for you to have taken at least two classes with them, and you need to have taken one of those classes with them within the last year. I took time to be as thorough as possible in filling out their reference request forms. I tried to provide support and evidence for my accomplishments under their instruction and shared a brief version of my story of why I wanted to become an SLP. I am grateful for the faculty and lab managers who care about supporting undergraduates in further education!
I had a strong, clinical reference from an SLP I had worked closely with through the school district. She could speak to my professionalism, competence, and potential in the field.
Q: What advice can you offer future SLP applicants?
Get connected and start volunteering early to position yourself for strong reference letters and opportunities to develop your skills in the field. Get to know the SLPs you work with; they are fantastic resources for guiding your undergraduate and application. Check your prerequisites and map out your courses accordingly. When in doubt, see Rita, the linguistic advisor; she is very helpful. Join the SFU Speech and Hearing Club as they have a comprehensive list of graduate schools and their prerequisites, host Q&A meetings with SLPs and Audiologists, provide volunteer opportunity information, and connect you with like-minded others. Take AUDI 402 with friends you can study with and take it on its own or with an otherwise light course load. Give yourself time to get everything together. Get involved and have fun!
CONSIDERING A CAREER IN SPEECH-LANGUAGE PATHOLOGY?
The Certificate in the Linguistics of Speech Science (CLSS) provides an understanding of the sound system and grammatical system of language and applies that knowledge to language acquisition, speech-language pathology, and more.
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SPEECH AND HEARING CLUB
Article Written by Michelle Beninteso