Communication Sciences and Disorder Junior Katherine Wallace

Katherine Wallace The IE Pre-Grad Internship has been an amazing learning experience for me in the field of Speech-Language Pathology. I signed up for this course after my academic advisor suggested it as a way to fulfill part of my degree requirements. I really had no idea what I was getting into until I actually started my internship with the Speech and Hearing Clinic.

Many people did research or graduate school applications with the program. My internship looked very different from that, and I am so thankful that it did. Throughout the course of this semester I got to work in a hands-on environment with my mentor, a first year graduate student in the Speech and Language Pathology Program here at the University of Texas at Austin. I was able to actually join in on a graduate school rotation where I got to work with preschoolers around Austin. It was a dream come true! For four hours each Wednesday morning we traveled to various Austin preschools and performed Speech, Language, Vision, and Hearing screening on children ages three to six. I thought that perhaps since I was only an undergraduate on a graduate school rotation that I would only be watching and not actually participating. I am happy to say that I was wrong in this assumption and got a great deal of real world experience in dealing with children. This was perfect seeing as how I would love to work with children after I attend graduate school. I was put in charge of the vision screening and even facilitated an entire week by myself. From this experience I learned many things about both graduate school and the life that comes after that.

It was really wonderful to be able to be in a rotation with seven other graduate students because I was able to ask them any question I could think of about graduate school, particularly the program at the University of Texas. One of the more shocking things I learned was that graduate students actually have clients in the Speech and Hearing clinic. They get real life experience with creating therapy sessions for real clients seeking real speech and language therapy. I also learned a lot about another aspect to Speech and Language Therapythe paperwork that it entails. Each of the students (including me) in my rotation was responsible for facilitating one week of the screenings. This required approximately five or six hours of filling out and organizing paperwork, preparing the necessary test forms, and following up with parent letters, referrals, and legal state documents about the screening results. After watching and helping my mentor facilitate I had the opportunity to do so myself. I was terrified at first, but quickly caught on to the patience and organization this type of paperwork takes. It gave me a glimpse into my career that I otherwise wouldn't have gotten until I entered graduate school. It required a great deal of responsibility and adherence to a strict code of ethics because it dealt with medical information. This real life experience began to build even more of an excitement in me about my future career.

Before this internship I had little to no idea about which graduate program I wanted to apply for. I knew that I needed to go to graduate school, because in Speech-Language Pathology you need a Master's Degree in order to get licensed. I didn't however know where to apply, or if I should take time off before jumping to a Master's program. Through the interview I conducted with my mentor, and through various other conversations we had I was able to answer a lot of these questions. For instance, she shared with me that it is generally a good idea to go directly into graduate school for our particular degree because the classes are structured very similarly to those in undergraduate programs so it is helpful to make that transition smoothly. Also, after seeing the University of Texas graduate students in action I have decided that I would love to apply here and attend the graduate program in Austin which is ranked ninth in the nation.

Another amazing opportunity that this internship presented was that it allowed me to get to know UT faculty. I worked alongside of Ann Hillis, a Speech-Pathologist and faculty member at the University. I learned so much from her about the multitude of opportunities that a Master's in Speech-Language Pathology has to offer. From a school, clinical, hospital, and now academic setting Ann Hillis has so much wisdom about this field and I was able to spend four hours a week working with her and learning how to really work with children in a therapy setting. The biggest thing I learned from her, however, was not a revelation about my career goals, but the art of dealing with children in very taxing situations. I think the most valuable thing I have taken away from this particular internship is that it takes a lot of energy and patience to get preschoolers to do what you need them to do, when it isn't at all close to what they would like to be doing. I am happy to say that I was taught by the best and am now even more confident that I would like to take the children approach throughout graduate school as opposed to the adult one.

All in all I had a blast this semester working in a real graduate school setting with a mentor who was willing to talk to me about any and all things related to graduate school. I feel much more prepared now to enter the world of graduate school. I no longer have to worry in wonder about what really goes on in the two years of graduate school because I have been equipped with knowledge of the application process, the curriculum, and the life that comes after receiving a license to practice Speech and Language therapy. I am now more excited than ever to embark upon the journey that is to come after my undergraduate program at the University of Texas at Austin.