May 2017 graduate spotlights: Speech-language pathology undergrads

Rachel Best, Alayna Stokes, Michaela Sullivan

May 2017 graduate spotlights: Speech-language pathology undergrads

03 May 2017    By Kelcey Buck

Rachel Best  |  Eden Prairie, Minnesota  |  Speech-language pathology

Minors: Education, Child Youth and Family Studies 

Rachel BestWhat brought you to Nebraska?
Being from Minnesota, I applied to Nebraska because it would be a new adventure, and I was attracted to the opportunities a Big Ten school would offer. I chose to attend Nebraska because of the warm environment I felt during my tour, which made the big campus feel like a small town.

What interested you in studying speech-language pathology?
I grew up wanting to be a teacher, like my mom. However, I got very involved in the special education community during high school, and quickly realized that I wanted to devote myself to investing in these individuals for the rest of my life. I shadowed the SLP at my mom’s school, and fell in love with the profession, due to the ability impact a wide variety of individuals in a very valuable way, by giving them the gift of communication. 

What has been the most rewarding aspect of studying speech-language pathology at Nebraska?
Nebraska has presented me with many opportunities to further my education beyond the classroom. Through the department, I studied abroad in Costa Rica, worked as a research assistant in one of my favorite professor’s Infant Communication Lab, served as the Vice President of a student organization, and volunteered in the community. Even more rewarding than these opportunities are the people I connected with along the way. What makes this department special is that the professors are knowledgeable and approachable, and that my classmates have become some of my best friends, inside and out of the classroom.

What’s next?
This summer I will work as a program specialist at a camp in northern Minnesota for individuals with disabilities, and starting this fall I will attend the University of Minnesota to pursue my master’s degree in speech-language pathology. 

Alayna Stokes  |  Omaha, Nebraska  |  Speech-language pathology

Minors: Leadership and Communications

Alayna StokesWhat brought you to Nebraska?
After exploring my options, Nebraska’s speech-language pathology program was the one that I believed to be the best option to prepare me for my future. In-state tuition didn't hurt either. :) 

What interested you in studying speech-language pathology?
The depth of investment between a speech-language pathologist and a client is unlike any I have ever seen. It is a person’s language and communication skills that allows him or her to build relationships, seek out experiences, share joy with one another, and so much more. I value the opportunity to reveal the potential of others to themselves. Developing a client’s language skills and internal drive would be incredibly fulfilling. This type of personal investment, growing alongside my client, and sharing their joy is what interested me in studying to become an SLP.

What has been the most rewarding aspect of studying speech-language pathology at Nebraska?
The most rewarding aspect has definitely been the relationships I have formed. Whether it be with professors or peers, the investment in this program has to be unmatched. The support within the program has made my time here even more worthwhile, knowing that my classmates’ successes, along with my own, are thanks to a study group session or riveting classroom discussion. Our professors truly care, and the friends I have made over the years are the reason I am where I am today. 

What’s next?
I will be taking a year to work and save up for grad school, but also traveling as much as I can! :)

Michaela Sullivan  |  Bellevue, Nebraska  |  Speech-language pathology, Spanish

Minor: Education

Michaela SullivanWhat brought you to Nebraska?
What first caught my eye about Nebraska (besides its close proximity to my home) was how good the speech-language pathology program is. The more I looked into it, the more excited I got about coming here. Being part of such an amazing college environment and being able to attend Husker athletic events didn’t hurt either.

What interested you in studying speech-language pathology?
As happens a lot with speech-language pathology majors, I was looking for something that combined aspects of both medicine and teaching. Once I discovered speech-language pathology, I recognized that it is the perfect combination of the two and knew I wanted to be a part of it. Communication is one of the most important abilities a human has. When someone is unable to successfully communicate, it isolates and frustrates them, and I love being in a position to someday help someone develop or restore the ability to participate and express themselves in the best way available to them.

What has been the most rewarding aspect of studying speech-language pathology at Nebraska?
The completion of my undergraduate honors thesis was very rewarding. I spent many months collaborating with my advisors developing and conducting my research study, as well as writing about it after. Once it was complete, it felt great to finally be able to see the tangible results in the form of a finished thesis paper. I learned so much during the process and am excited to continue learning about research and all that it entails as I continue my involvement into graduate school.

Another deeply rewarding thing that resulted from studying speech-language pathology at Nebraska was my decision to work at a place called Children’s Respite Care Center (a center that cares for children with special needs) in order to gain experience with this population. Working there with my background in speech-language pathology allows me to appreciate and encourage all forms of communication from our clients, regardless of their current communication level. Learning about how each client communicates and watching them develop is extremely rewarding and exciting, and it is something I do not think I would have appreciated as much had I not been a speech-language pathology major.

What’s next?
After graduation, I will continue my education at Nebraska by entering the speech-language pathology graduate program this fall. Who knows what will come after that??


Special Education and Communication Disorders