SLP Profile - Robyn Buckingham
Robyn will be attending UBC's speech pathology program in September.
When did you start/finish your degree?
I started my degree in September 2015 and will be finishing in the summer of 2018. I completed a double major in linguistics and psychology and also completed the speech sciences certificate.
What attracted you to SLP?
While I was in high school, I was strongly considering SLP as a future career path after watching my younger sister receive speech therapy and seeing the toll not being able to communicate had on her. However, it was only after shadowing and talking to SLP’s that firmly cemented my decision to pursue the field. I did my first year of school at the University of Alberta and was able to shadow three SLPs at Glenrose rehabilitation hospital. They applied a multidisciplinary, holistic approach to their patients care which I found amazing. Over the last three years, I have spoken with SLP’s in hospitals, schools, and private settings and have never met anyone who did not love what they were doing. What I love about SLP is the mix between neuroscience and communication/swallowing and the major role you play in helping someone with a crucial part of their daily lives.
What do you think made your SLP application successful? What advice would you give to undergraduates who aspire to be SLPs?
I think my application was successful because it was very well rounded in regards to grades, volunteering, and research experience. I finished a double major (121 credits) and had a cGPA of around 3.7 when I applied to UBC’s SLP program. I was offered a conditional acceptance with the terms that I successfully complete the spring and summer semesters.
In the years leading up until my application, I tried to get as much information as I could on what I needed to do to be a competitive applicant. I looked at what SLPs majored in, talked to people who had been accepted to programs, and went to the SLP panel that the faculty of linguistics holds. If I were to summarize what I’ve learned over the last couple years, I would say that successful applicants had:
1. Volunteer Experience (in rehabilitation and speech settings- ideally under an SLP)
2. Research Experience (In Ling/Psych- however most research experience is good experience!)
3. Grades (on average most programs say around a 3.8 GPA (last 60 credits), but I’ve also heard of people getting accepted with 3.0.)
Of course, there is no set formula for getting into programs. Every school is unique and places an emphasis on different things, but this is just what I have observed.
I think the strengths of my application were a double major (I know completing a double major seems quite daunting, it was to me at the beginning, but once you plan out your schedule semester by semester, it is very doable and can be done in 120 credits!), volunteering (the two main speech relevant areas I volunteered in was an aphasia group underneath a SLP, and SFU’s Autism Mentorship Initiative where I mentored a SFU student with ASD), and research (I worked in the Memory and Attention lab in the Psychology department running EEG experiments)
As much as linguistics is a huge part of SLP I think my courses in Psychology were equally important. Courses such as cognitive neuroscience, human neuropsychology, behavioural endocrinology, psychopharmacology, Adulthood and Aging, Health psychology teaches and gives you an appreciation for the brain and human behaviour which I believe is essential for SLPs (it will also be very help you if you are planning on taking AUDI 402 online at UBC!).
All this being said, make sure you follow what you are passionate about. Trying to get into any Masters program is very difficult and requires a lot of hard work, but as long as you are doing what you love, the process will be much more enjoyable. If you are passionate about what you are doing it will show!
I loved my experience at SFU and can not speak higher of it! The linguistics faculty is amazing and the professors I’ve had have truly left a mark on me. If you haven’t already met her, Rita Parmar, the Linguistics advisor is one of the nicest people and has helped me so much throughout my entire SFU experience and applying to grad school. I wish you the best of luck if you are trying to get into SLP!