On April 24, 2020, the inaugural cohort of the Master of Science Speech-Language Pathology (MS-SLP) program graduated from the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences (USAHS).
“Congratulations to the MS-SLP inaugural graduating class. You have studied diligently online, on-campus, and in clinical settings,” MS-SLP Program Director, Dr. Kathy Wheat said. “You are academically and clinically prepared to assume your new role as a Clinical Fellow Speech-Language Pathologist in all types of clinical settings.”
Because the Spring Commencement ceremonies have been postponed to a later date, MS-SLP graduates attended the virtual ceremony complete with toasts and well wishes from MSSLP faculty and Dr. Wheat. Amongst the graduating class were 19 students who shared their favorite memories at USAHS, lessons they learned, and plans during the ceremony.
“The inaugural class has the knowledge, skills, and tools to be excellent speech-language pathologists and life-long learners. They are going to make a difference in people’s lives helping them to communicate and swallow,” MS-SLP Associate Professor Dr. Meghan Savage said. “I look forward to seeing our graduates blossom in the field as speech-language pathologists and leaders.”
Melanie Alys Aleman shared that the friendships she made through the program and the invaluable experience gained while working as a graduate clinician are things she will always cherish. She has a position in a skilled nursing facility as an SLP clinician fellow in Houston, TX.
“My favorite aspect of being a USAHS student is the training of working collaboratively and professionally with Occupational and Physical Therapists,” graduate Brandon Barron said. He will be working as a School-Based CF-SLP with EBS Healthcare in Vacaville, CA.
Vanessa Castillo will be working with children and adults in need of SLP services in Lubbock, TX. She shared, “I will always remember how great our professors and instructors were. Although classes were challenging, they were always there to help us navigate and guide us in the right direction.”
Whitney Dana said she would carry with her the friendships and connections she’s made throughout the program. She plans to work in pediatrics in Austin, TX.
“My favorite aspect of being a USAHS student is the endless support and encouragement from faculty and staff,” graduate Kheren Garcia said. She will be working in Pediatric Home Health as an SLP-CF in Austin, TX.
Hannah Griffey will be moving to Atlanta, GA, to complete a clinical fellowship and pursue a PhD at Georgia State University. “The most memorable aspect of being a USA student is the remarkable opportunity to learn how to be a competent speech-language pathologist from knowledgeable professors with other students who also have a passion for the field,” she said.
Christina Hansen will always remember going to TSHA for the first time and taking home the Praxis Bowl crown with her cohort. “I will be forever grateful for this program accepting me and allowing me to fulfill my dream of becoming a Speech-Language Pathologist,” she said. She recently secured a position with a pediatric private practice.
Ephraim K. Hill Jr. says the most significant take away from the program is an attitude of gratitude. He will begin his career practicing in the medical aspects of speech-language pathology as a clinical fellow at the Moody Neurorehabilitation Institute on Galveston, Island.
“One thing I will take with me is how to collaborate within an interdisciplinary team,” graduate Christine Miller said. She plans to work as an SLP in Fort Worth, TX.
Gabrielle Mungaven plans to work as an SLP at an outpatient rehabilitation clinic in San Diego, CA. She will always remember the friendships she made during her time at USAHS.
Saba Nayani loved being a part of the inaugural cohort of the MS-SLP program and will carry with her the knowledge and friendships she gained in the program. She will work at Centre for Neuro Skills in Fort Worth, TX.
Daffney Obare aims to work in travel speech therapy exploring the endless possibilities in the pediatric population. “My favorite aspect of being a USA student is the sense of community and purpose I have gained through academic mentorship.”
Abeer Otaky is excited to continue working with and learning from her colleagues, clinical educators, and professionals. She wants to see where her skills are most needed and support others during the COVID-19 crisis.
“My most memorable aspect of being a USA student is being able to always talk with those in my cohort even though we are an online program,” graduate Maddie Humphreys said. She hopes to work at a pediatric speech therapy clinic in Oklahoma City, OK.
Haylee Radtke is looking forward to traveling and seeking opportunities that are available as an SLP in those areas. “My favorite aspect of being a USA student is the unique opportunity of being a pioneer in the Speech-Language Pathology online program,” she said.
Allison Raley Davis is relocating to Dallas, TX, and will explore opportunities there. “One thing I will take away from my program into my future career is never stop collaborating with fellow SLPs,” she said.
Stefani Stovall learned that communication is key. “If there is a discrepancy or something that I don’t understand, it is important to do the research and talk to people who will be able to help me,” she said. She will be moving to Fort Worth to begin her CF and future SLP career.
“One thing that I will take with me into my future from the program is knowing that no matter what life throws at me, I will always be able to overcome it,” graduate Kristin Mai Tran said. Her next step is to continue staying positive, resilient, and take things day by day.
Kari Amezcua said her favorite aspect of being a USAHS student is the high standards and expectations that everyone possesses, from the professors to her peers. She plans to complete her CF in a rehabilitation setting.
One highlight of this inaugural cohort was the Texas Speech-Language-Hearing Association Convention’s 2020 Praxis Bowl. USAHS students attended the 64th annual convention on February 20-22, 2020. They competed against other university programs in the state of Texas and won.
“The Blue class has paved the way for future cohorts and set the bar high when they won the Texas Speech-Language Hearing Praxis bowl in their first time to compete,” Dr. Savage said.
The Jeopardy-like competition involves other Texas SLP graduate schools challenging one another in a knowledge bowl based on potential questions for the Praxis Examination – an integral component of American Speech-Language-Hearing Association certification standards.
“USAHS is proud of your accomplishments and upon your graduation, welcomes you as colleagues in the profession,” Dr. Wheat said. “I look forward with great anticipation to hear and learn of your successes in practice, as well as professional leadership in your areas of employment. We are forever connected and will continue to partner and work together for future students in days to come! Congratulations!”