Speech language pathology (SLP) student, Hannah Griffey, is in her fifth trimester at the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences (USAHS) and will graduate in April 2020.
She is a part of the initial cohort for the SLP program at USAHS and will be in its first graduating class.
At USAHS, Hannah has discovered a true passion for the field of SLP and appreciation for quality education and training. Her USAHS experience has inspired her to continue her path of learning and she has been accepted to a research-based PhD program which she will begin this fall.
“Hannah has a mix of passion and curiosity that makes for a wonderful student,” Associate Professor Dr. Meghan Savage, CCC-SLP, PhD said. “I believe her sense of curiosity fuels her desire to work towards a PhD. She understands there is still so much to learn about our field and how to deliver the best assessments and interventions to improve an individual’s quality of life.”
Hometown: I grew up in Green River, Wyoming. Since graduating with my bachelor’s degree, I’ve lived in Indiana, Utah, Colorado, San Francisco, Georgia, and Italy.
Family life: I live with my husband and our two kittens in South Bend, Indiana while he finishes his master’s degree in architecture at Notre Dame.
Favorite Book: I am a huge Harry Potter fan!
Role Model: I’ve always admired Elizabeth Garret Anderson. If you haven’t heard of her you should go look her up.
Why did you decide to pursue an education in Speech-Language Pathology?
When I started college, I was having a hard time choosing between medicine, education and psychology. Speech-language pathology was the perfect fit for me because it is a combination of all three. I liked that there is so much variety in the field. We can help people swallow, focus on cognitive skills, or improve communication if they’re having a hard time hearing, understanding or speaking. We work with various populations as well- newborns, toddlers, school-aged kids, or adults. And in a lot of different settings like schools, hospitals, clinics, homes, rehab, or nursing homes. You’ll never be bored, and I feel like there is so much variety that everyone can find an area of the field that really interests them.
Why did you choose USAHS’ SLP program?
I was drawn to the way everyone was really invested in us and the program. There are not a lot of hybrid programs out there that want to find your placements for you. The professors in the SLP program at USAHS cared about us both as students and people. They wanted us to do well and succeed and got to know each of us on a personal level which meant a lot to me.
Why did you choose to take a research/academic career path rather than a clinical practice route?
I think how much my professors at USAHS invested in me made me realize that the education you gain in a graduate program is critical in your success as a clinician. I’d like to continue the tradition that USAHS has given me in having a good education and good training and continue to provide that to clinicians. They are the ones who will go out and change peoples’ lives and that’s a big deal!
The people that we work with as SLPs have gone through traumatic experiences. Some of them had a recent traumatic experience like a brain injury from a car accident or a stroke. Some of them have been battling disease for a long time, maybe it’s a degenerative disease that is going to continue to get worse or maybe it’s an injury that they’ll recover from. We have a unique opportunity to help these people communicate and help their loved ones communicate with them. Sometimes this means we are helping them recover abilities so they can continue to live a full and exciting life, and other times it means trying to smooth the transition as individuals and families prepare for someone to pass away.
I worked with a four-year-old child at one of my placements who was in hospice. It was an honor to be able to work with him and help him communicate with his mom for the last couple of months that he had left to live. It meant so much to his parents that they were able to continue to communicate with him. It is important that we are qualified and competent to fill the toles we do as SLPs. I want to help provide quality education so future clinicians feel prepared and capable to help every individual they meet.
What kind of research are you interested in?
I think research is how we innovate and how we discover ground-breaking treatments and techniques. We wouldn’t want to be treated with medicinal practices that are 50 years old and the same thing is true for the techniques we use in therapy. We want them to be the most recent and up-to-date discoveries because that means they’ll be the most effective. I am starting a research-based PhD program this fall which will train me on how to properly perform research.
I am interested in researching adult neurogenic communication disorders. They are language disorders that are acquired after injury or disease when that person has lost their ability to communicate. Language is a fundamental part of what makes us human and how we’re able to connect with each other. When that ability is lost, and we can no longer foster those relationships with each other, it affects our well-being and our quality of life.
Sometimes when people have a stroke, they develop aphasia which is a difficulty speaking or understanding what people say with varying severities. I would like to research intervention methods that help these individuals recover and compensate for the loss of those skills. I want to focus on quality of life and wellness of the whole person and what they are interested in so that they can more fully participate in the things in life they enjoy most.
What is your greatest accomplishment?
I think what I’m most proud of is my passion for the field. That passion is something that I had to develop by gaining a knowledge and an understanding of what we do, why we do it, and how we do it.
The training that I’ve received at USAHS, although challenging at times, has been very rewarding. It has given me my passion for the field and prepared me for the future. I know I’m ready for my PhD program. I know I’m prepared for any client or patient I come across in my career. And I know that I’m able to work hard and accomplish my professional goals. Thank you USAHS!