Students in one of Bridgewater State University’s newest graduate programs know struggling to speak shouldn’t be an impediment to communicating. And, they are ready to give a voice to those who might otherwise go voiceless.
Four members of the inaugural graduate speech-language pathology class reflected on their time in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders as undergraduate and graduate students:
Nicole Goulart, ’16, G’19, Braintree:
Nicole traces her career choice to her father, Christopher Goulart, who has achalasia, a rare disorder that affects swallowing.
As for a career, she hopes to work with high school students. Bridgewater, she said, was a natural higher education destination because of its location, affordability and small class sizes.
“The professors have always been supportive and encouraging,” she said. “Whenever I needed extra one-on-one attention, because the class size is so small, they always facilitated that. … They really shaped me into who I am today.”
Courtney Sheridan, ’17, G’19, Quincy:
Courtney, too, has a personal reason for pursuing this career: Her younger cousin saw a speech therapist.
“I just really liked the idea of helping people use the skill we all have and take for granted,” she said. “It’s extremely challenging for other people and I like helping them overcome those challenges.”
Courtney, who also aims to work with children, praised her graduate education for providing an opportunity to work closely with faculty, as well a diverse range of clinical placements in school, hospital and private practice settings.
“The small classes helped me to grow as a student,” she said. “I got to know my professors better. I feel like I’ve been able to advocate for myself.”
Theresa Zeoli, ’15, G’19, Bridgewater:
Theresa knew the importance of her field from a young age as she observed speech therapists while shadowing her mother on the job at a nursing home. That experience helped shape her career aspirations, although she hopes to help a younger age group.
“I just get kids. I work well with them. I really like teaching more of the basic skills, focused on whether they know how to greet someone or express their wants and needs,” said Theresa, who aspires to serve children who need alternative forms of communication, such as an electronic speech generating device.
Bridgewater is an integral part of her family. Her dad worked here as a food service director in the 1990s and her sister is a Bear. So, it’s no surprise she chose BSU for her education.
“The extra two years really does provide a lot of information,” Theresa said of graduate school. “I feel way more specialized than before.”
Brielyn O’Leary, ’16, G’19, Quincy:
Brielyn came to BSU as a 17-year-old undergraduate not sure what she wanted to do. Serving with BSU’s Children's Physical Developmental Clinic, a program that allows students to work as clinicians with children with disabilities, helped Brielyn realize speech-language pathology is for her.
“I feel that language and my ability to speak is one of my best skills,” she said. “I like the idea of helping others.”
Brielyn praised supportive faculty such as Dr. Ahmed Abdelal. Bears graduate with exceptional knowledge comparable to their peers at more well-known schools and the confidence to research topics they may not have studied in class.
“We have the skills now to teach ourselves what the best thing to do is,” Brielyn said. “I feel prepared going out into the world.”
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