Communication Science and Disorders Junior Lindsay Thomas
The Lion's Den
When I first considered the Intellectual Entrepreneurship Pre-Grad Internship, I am not really sure I knew what I was getting myself into. I figured I would be doing mostly observation and making copies for my graduate student mentor and supervisor. Little did I know that I would be thrown into the lion's den to begin practicing my future life. By this, I mean that because of this program, I have already encountered the nerve racking, first experience of doing speech therapy with a child. I have been able to participate in a brand new intervention program, speak to graduate students and watch them work, and finally start to understand what my life may hold for me.
I, along with three other graduate students including my mentor, began to work with a new reading intervention program at Travis Heights Elementary School at the beginning of this semester. This program was basically a trial run to decide whether or not the program, or something like it, would be worth spending the extra time and teaching to accomplish any progress with certain children's reading capabilities. The four of us were assigned to children that their teachers had chosen because of their delayed reading skills. We tested each of the children chosen to participate. We then had to compile research and various methods to make lesson plans each week to fulfill the areas that showed weakness.
As the program progressed, I found myself enjoying the time I spent planning my lesson plans and performing them with my assigned child. I found I enjoyed her success even more. I am only a measly undergraduate student, doing therapy and planning language and reading activities for the first time; I was shocked at how comfortable I felt in my own skin. We started to receive praises from the teachers on the improvement they were seeing in their students. It made me think that if we can make a difference by only spending an hour, total, per week with our child, what kind of difference could be made with more time? What kind of difference can I make for others in the future with my profession? As the program is coming to an end, I can only hope that this elementary school and many others continue to move forward with the progress this program might bring.
A huge perk of my working with this program was also getting to work with graduate students. I must say, at first, I felt a little embarrassed to not always understand what they were talking about or referring to. I quickly learned that this is exactly how they felt when they began graduate school, and here I was feeling that same feeling two years ahead of my graduate school beginnings. Graduate school is only another step in our learning process. Seeing these successful graduate students who are already experiencing the tolls of practicing to be a speech pathologist, while at the same time learning how to do so, gives me hope. Although they have no reservations when making graduate school sound like the beast it is, I am not so worried anymore. I realize that grad school will be hard; it will bring trials and stress. I know that I am ready for it now. I already have an upper hand on graduate students that have no experience with therapy, planning activities, testing, and documenting. I already have an idea of what is expected of me in grad school. I have heard these three graduate students discuss their numerous therapy sessions and classes. I have heard them discuss various professors and assignments. I have heard them discuss the balancing act of school and life outside of school. What I have discovered from them, is that all of these components must be incorporated with one another in order to make my future with speech pathology the best it can be.
Most importantly, this program has given me a glimpse at the time and effort that comes with the profession and life I have chosen to make for myself. I always knew that my profession allowed for many different atmospheres of work along with many different types of clients. By being a speech pathologist, I can choose to work in a school or hospital setting, or maybe a home health or private practice setting. I can choose to work with children who have speech disorders or children with developmental diseases or disorders; or I can choose to work with adults who have suffered from a stroke or other type of illness damaging their speech abilities. All of these options give me the opportunity to never grow bored in my profession. I have always wanted to work with children, and doing so at the elementary school has made that even clearer to me.
It is hard to get involved with any type of internship in my field because most speech therapy sessions are classified and closed to the public. I have done volunteer work at a school where children have speech disorders; but volunteering to help, and actually being the help children need are two incomparable things. This has been a hands on undertaking that has prepared me in ways I could not have imagined. It has lit a fire for me. I want to know and learn more about therapy, work settings, disorders, graduate programs, research, and the list will only grow with time.
I have discovered a countless number of things thanks to the Intellectual Entrepreneurship Pre-Grad Internship. I have discovered that jumping straight into something you are afraid of, is the only way to overcome that fear and learn from it. I have rediscovered the potential I have in myself. I have found joy in helping others, which is a great feeling knowing I will be doing so for the rest of my life. I feel more prepared for the tasks that will be given to me in the future. And I am now not so afraid of graduate school and the lions that come with it because I have already overcome that fear of the lion's den.