CSD (Speech/Language Pathology) senior America Perez

America PerezCurrently, I am a senior at the University of Texas at Austin and I'm majoring in Communication Sciences and Disorders. As a senior I was faced with many important decisions that could determine the outcome of my life. There are many options after graduation, but my first thought was to continue on to graduate school and become a speech pathologist. Although this was my first choice I wanted to make sure it was the right choice for me. Now, near the end of the internship, I'm even more excited to go to graduate school than before. I feel that this internship offered me the opportunity to see how different graduate school is compared to studying as an undergraduate; it also reassured my decision of attending graduate school. The main focus of my internship was to prepare for graduate school and also to get an idea of the difference between undergraduate and graduate school. Through this internship I was granted the opportunity to attend two graduate classes at UT, a research meeting and observe at the Speech and Hearing Clinic. Moreover, these activities provided a preview of what I should expect in graduate school.

I was able to attend two graduate classes at UT. I believe that this experience helped me realize how different undergraduate courses are in comparison to graduate courses. In my opinion, graduate courses are more open for discussion. I felt that graduate students were not as intimidated by the professors as undergraduate students are and graduate students didn't seem to be afraid to speak in front of the class. Furthermore, I believe it is easier for graduate students to have a more personal relationship with their professors. As undergraduates most of the classes have a large number of students, but in both of the graduate classes I attended there were about fifteen to twenty students in each class. After one of the classes I had the opportunity to talk to one of the graduate students and ask her questions. She offered great advice on the application process, what to include in my personal essay, and what to expect from graduate school. I believe that it is easier to relate to someone who is going through what you plan to go through and hearing what she had to say really helped. After attending these classes I began to doubt myself. I didn't think that I could actually be "one of them;" in other words a graduate student. When I was talking to that same graduate student she told me never to doubt myself. She said that she also had doubts and almost didn't apply for the graduate program at UT, but in the end she decided to go through with it and now she is graduating with a master's degree in May. My favorite part of the internship was attending these two classes. I had the opportunity to be among graduate students and get to see, first hand, what graduate school will be like.

The University of Texas at Austin is greatly involved in research. Attending a research meeting was a great opportunity because I was able to experience the long process of testing, organizing, and analyzing the data that is collected during research. I began to realize how important research can be. There are many questions in my field that still need to be answered and research opens the door to answering those questions. Before this internship I didn't have much of an idea of what research is about, now I appreciate the importance of research and how it contributes to expanding out knowledge of communication sciences and disorders.

The Program in Communication Sciences and Disorders requires several hours of observation in order to graduate. A Communication Sciences and Disorders student goes to the Speech and Hearing Clinic on the 2nd floor of the Jesse H. Jones Communication Center - A (CMA) building on campus and observes patients receiving language and speech therapy by graduate students. During the internship I completed as many hours as possible. My mentor and I thought it would be a good idea for me to observe as part of the internship because if I had any questions about the therapy I could get more information from him.

Overall, I feel that this internship not only offered me the opportunity to explore graduate school, but it also allowed me to gain a more personal relationship with my mentor and several other professors. In the past I've had trouble attempting to create a relationship with my professors. When I was looking into the application process for graduate school, all of the graduate programs request letters of recommendation. To request a recommendation from a professor, they at least have to slightly remember who you are and I would need to ask them to write a recommendation for me. I quickly realized that I need to get rid of my fear of approaching professors and visit my professors during office hours so that they could get to know me. Since my mentor and I met about once a week, I quickly loss that fear. I began to visit other professors and in the end I had no problems asking professors to write letters of recommendation.