Second Semester

There is light at the end of the tunnel.

Although I don’t know the disorders, there is some basic understanding of how sessions should be run and I feel as though I have some tools to succeed. There is light.

Thinking now about next years outplacement, how did you decide where to go?

It’s so much easier this second semester because its not all new, so hang in there! You can do it.



Finding schools to apply to

A few things to consider when determining what schools to apply to

Your cohort size, the ratio of faculty to students, your supervisor and professors areas of expertise, thinking about what is the main focus of your program, in my case its most definitely research based, and also thinking about what other opportunities they offer. Do they have any special programs that you’re interested in? Also its important to consider where your school is, in my case its in the DMV area which is amazing because we have so many different opportunities to work with different types of populations and have a variety of outplacements to choose from. The cost of living and also if your program gives any assistantships, scholarships or financial help. Luckily everyone in our program received some type of assistantship whether it was within or at the university. I

It is of most importance to review the faculty of the school you’re applying to. This will tell you a lot. Especially take note of the clinical supervisors, they are the ones that are going to supervisor your clients so they might not take on clients outside of their speciality areas.

If you’re interested in doing Aphasia, then look for schools that have some supervisors that specialize in Aphasia. Keep in mind however, that you may go into graduate school thinking you want to do one thing and come out first semester not knowing what you want to do! That is my case, I know what I definitely don’t want to do.

Lastly, find some current students and talk to them! Ask them questions and get some first insider details that only they would be able to provide!





My First Semester of Graduate School


It felt like I was going to die? Is that a good way to commence a blog post for aspiring students? Yes. Its realistic.

With that said, I did have a 20 hour GA that I juggled with my already full course load. Graduate school is hard, but for all the right reasons. You learn a-lot in an a small allotted time frame, you have REAL people as clients that you feel this sense of obligation towards and somehow you’re expected to balance your personal life, clinic and academics. Its a-lot to handle. This post would be the most efficient if I came up with some lists, Ten Things I’ve Learned, Ten Things I Wish I Had Done Sooner and the Ten Things I Couldn’t Have Survived Without.

So lets go!

The 10s.

Ten Things I’ve Learned

  1. ADVOCATE for yourself and for your sanity. What do I mean by this, I mean, if you are overwhelmed and you need an extension on something ask for it, your supervisors are a-lot more understanding then you give them credit for. It will avoid any miscommunications and also maybe put into perspective things that are happening not only to you but to other students, you’re not alone. It might also make you realize that your priorities aren’t lining up, its normal, you’re not supposed to have it all together the first few weeks.
  2. When in doubt, ask your Cohort, you’ll be surprised at the information they can pull out of you and that they can pull out of thin air. Sometimes you just need someone to bounce ideas off of. There were so many times when I felt stuck on what to do in therapy or when I didn’t get something and they were always there, breaking things down and sometimes helping me overcome my own mental blocks. Plus they are all so smart and talented, you wouldn’t be in graduate school with them if that wasn’t the case.
  3. No one understands you except your Cohort. This couldn’t be truer, its that simple. Not even your spouse will understand why you’re ranting about something that happened a day ago, but if you text your cohort members, they get it and they are right there with you.
  4. Your Clients are Angels sent from Heaven to assist you in becoming a better Clinician. They understand that they are at an Academic teaching center, they get it. They aren’t nearly as fragile or scared of you messing up, they get it. They’ve most likely been through the process if they are seasoned clients and are open to helping you out as much as you are helping them out. They know you don’t have it all together but they know that you care more than most people do and that you’re going to work your ass off to make sure that you give them your best.
  5. You may think you’re going to die, but you probably just need food and sleep. There is nothing that food and just some sleep can solve. Seriously, take a nap. There were times were I just couldn’t think anymore but I was so adamant about powering through that I wasn’t taking care of the basics.
  6. No one knows a damn thing. That person in your class who seems like they have it together? Yeah they aren’t saying anything because they are shit scared like you’re. If anyone knew what they were doing they wouldn’t be in graduate school. Period.
  7. Find the strengths in your cohort and find your own strengths, everyone is good at different things. Rely on each other for those things. I had a girl in my class who was a linguist, she was a bad ass, someone else was good at Kid things, and someone had so much experience with autism, rely on these people and use their strengths. More than likely they are good at these things because they enjoy them!
  8. Turn things in on time. Do your best to turn things in on time, one, you’ll get more feedback and two, you wont get the reputation of being that student who didn’t turn in their things on time. It also helps you fly beneath the radar. I on the other hand, was that not the person who turned in things on time and I did catch heat for it. Lesson learned. It really boils down to maintaining  your professionalism as a student.
  9. Always keep:  1. Some type of pain medication, 2. Snacks, 3. Caffeine and 4. a frozen meal just in case. You have no idea how many times these things will be asked for, and even if they aren’t for you its nice to know that you can help someone else. In turn, trust me, these people will be there for you as well.
  10. Let your guard down, and don’t take yourself so seriously. Graduate school is fun if you make time to laugh and just realize how messed up your life is.

Ten things I wish I had done sooner

  1. Consistently worked out. Seriously. Even if it was for fifteen minutes a day, It was so hard to think about fitness but I think it would have helped my mental state of being.
  2. Trusting myself and being sure of who I was. Once I was more comfortable and was myself during sessions I noticed that I could start building my relationships with my client, which in retrospect is the most important aspect of clinic.
  3. Eating healthy. LOL. Grad school is a pitfall of chips, bad food and cookies. Its hard not to crave sweets when your entire life is stressful.
  4. Requested more feedback. You can never have enough feedback. When my supervisors made it optional to meet with them I thought it was the best thing in the world, I wish I hadn’t given up that time to talk to them, even if it wasn’t about my clients.
  5.  Scoped out some good resource websites, I found some way too late! They could have saved my life.
  6. Checked out the materials cabinet and its full range of inventory. Too late did I find out that we had a hungry hippos! I think the problem was that most people kept things in their box and you just never knew it existed!
  7. Bought a laminator for home. Yeah. It was great. I could prep at home, in my PJs and live some kinda of home life, even if it meant that I was just cutting and laminating things out.
  8. GOOGLE CALENDAR reigns supreme. Seriously. You’ll need a way to keep a tab on everything you do, it definitely helped to plan things out.
  9. Pretending I knew everything. Yeah. You don’t know JS and that is fine, pretending to always have it together is exhausting. When I just let myself be a mess I felt a-lot better.
  10. That there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  I wish I had seen it earlier. There were times were I just felt so exhausted I lost track of what the goal was, just being a first semester student. You know nothing, no one expects anything else of you and its okay to make mistakes. This was the hardest thing to learn.

Ten Things I Couldn’t have Survived Without 

  1. Recorder. Get one, it will save you when you need to listen to your session at the end of the night because you blanked out, due to sleep depravation, on collecting data.
  2. A white board and dry erase markers. There are so many activities you can do with a white board and dry erase markers, its limitless. It was the best tool!
  3. A watch, you’ll need one to see as the minutes of your life waste away. No, but seriously, you’ll be spending most of your time in these drab rooms with no clocks and no sense of time.
  4. A portfolio, to look professional of course because no one should know its empty like your dreams of success. No but seriously, a nice portfolio, preferably one where you can stuff papers into, because you know, being an SLP means that you have to print out ten million things and kill god knows how many trees.
  5. Some kind of family support, for me it was my husband, for others just someone that you can have on your side that can remind you of how smart you’re and why you’re doing this in the first place. You’ll need someone who gives you, as we say in spanish fanfaria, which translates to fanfare, or someone who is yelling ” YEAH YEAH YEAH YEAH WOOOOOooooOOO”.
  6. Having a few tote bags. These are nice to pre assemble your materials for individual sessions so you can just pre arrange them and go on hectic days.
  7. Making your materials last, yeah it seems like a pain in the ass to have to laminate everything and put velcro on things but I can’t tell you the amount of times I have reused my materials! All because I spend a few extra minutes making sure they were durable.
  8. My cohort- for asking questions, for support, for materials, for ideas. I mean these girls are a well of information. Make a few good friends, open up to them and build yourself a fort of trust and support. Invest in these relationships, go out of your way to help one another and just watch how they are going to be there for you when shit seems impossible. You’ll also want to go out and enjoy some sort of life, its great to do this with them, so you can bitch and rant about things that no one else gets.
  9. One good supervisor. You don’t need them to all like you, but find the one you vibe with the most and make a conscious effort to nurture this relationship. You’re going to need someone that believes in you and someone that you can go to incase something happens.  I had something happen to me this semester that I needed the support of my supervisors and faculty about, but that is for another blog!
  10. Food. Snacks. Food. Snacks. Food. Diet Dr. Pepper, Diet Coke Zero, Food. Pretty much just having food around that is portable and on the go. There can’t be enough said about just having something to eat or snack on, most of time that you feel like you’re going to punch someone, its probably because you’re hangry.

And when the semester finally ends, you’ll be in disbelief, mostly by the fact that if someone asks you some kind of speech related question you can probably bullshit your way through it whereas before you really had no clue. You’ll also be surprised by the friendships you made and the high and lows that a human can experience in a span of a short semester. You might also definitely either be surprised by the amount of weight you’ve gained if you didn’t take into account my things I learned bullets about eating healthy and working out, for me that was 7 pounds, for my friend she lost like 10! Stress affects different people differently, I am envious of her. Lastly, you’ll be glad that you made it and didn’t give up! Apparently its all easier from here on out and you should feel like a seasoned student at this point with some sort of knowledge about the general workings of your department and the temperance of your superiors, e.g. Mrs. so and so, I can turn that in late, Mr. So and so, yeah I need to have that in like now. It helps when attempting to plan out what from your list of ten million things you’re not even going to get to that day.

Good Luck to you all and feel free to shoot me an email if you’re looking for some motivation or just have general questions.

Forever a servant to the people,


Wrapping up the summer 

Orientation is right around the corner!

The summer has come and gone and fall is knocking at the door.

I am wrapping up my last week as a nanny, both bitter and sweet. I’ve been a nanny for the last two years  and I’ve also held a few short term babysitting positions along side  and it gets easier to say goodbye each time. It has been an enriching experience that has taught me a lot, both about myself and about children. There really isn’t a guide you can read, its hands on, and you learn more about yourself in the process. It does harbor copious amounts of patience but it is also very rewarding.

It’s been easier to say goodbye to the family I’ve worked with the last year because I’ve been ready to enter graduate school for some time. All the stars have aligned and I find myself in a very serene place. Maybe the calm before the storm?

I was awarded an hourly position with my schools speech and hearing clinic which has been a god sent! It’s allowed me to have sense of security with all the unknowns. I’ve been there this summer and have seen the patient population, the second years and met most of the faculty- which is amazing. I’ve also learned our EMR system and the gist of how the department runs.

My program offers a cultural diversity option which I’ve applied to. I attended a seminar beforehand to learn more about it and see if it was a good fit and if I wanted to dedicate the time to it. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before but a cornerstone of my application was based on increasing the diversity within the SLP field- insert quote on stats of minoroties- make up the SLP field?

UMD is actively trying to change that, which makes me feel so happy about my choice to be there.

Our class is also small, which historically seems to always be the case, no wonder they rank the highest in the DMV area. Small class, large faculty to student ratio, diversity, LEAP and now the cultural diversity track. One thing that attracted me to UMD before wanting to go there was that it’s a state institution, and that they constantly review their curriculum to make sure that they are up to date with requirements. They recently added a neuro course and aural rehab to their list of pre-reqs, annoying but necessary and a reflection that they care about what their students learn.

After probing the second year that works with me, she gave me some good tips on supplies to buy for the year.

-a white board and markers- she says that they are a great tool you can use with all students

– a voice recorder, we don’t need the external mic, she suggested I buy one I can directly plug into my computer.

– grocery or fabric bags, she made a great suggestion to keep materials for different clients in each bag so I could just grab and go! I bought some at madewell for 5.00! Great buy , I had been searching on Amazon and they were a bit more expensive. Also Whole Foods has some smaller lunch looking grocery bags for .50. I stacked up on those to take my lunch.


Orientation is next week!

I am also almost done with my summer reading list! I’ll update it later!


Master Clinician/Pre-Reqs


Besides currently working three jobs I also had to take some pre-reqs before entering graduate school in the fall, both-HESP 417: Principles and Methods in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology and HESP 313, 422, or equivalent: Neurobiology for Speech and Hearing.

Being out-of-state has been painful and taking these two classes at UMD would put me out a total of about 4 grand….shriek..that is what nightmares are made of.

So, I decided to get on the grad cafe forum to search for some online equivalents I could take. It would be less expensive and it would offer some flexibility which given my most recent circumstances would really help with life.

I ended up finding out about and enrolling in Longwood University Online Program which offered both PCSD 489:  Introduction to Clinical Practice and PCSD 455: Neurology for Human Communication which were both approved as equivalents. WOOO HOOOOO!!

Here the website if youre intersted in checking it out:

The cost also would be about 2k instead of 4…that is called a win when you’re paying out-of-pocket for your own classes hence why I work three jobs.

It was through Longwoods Clinical Practice class that I found out about the website Master Clinician. Most of my previous observation hours were done in a hospital setting. I was a bit uneasy and worried that I had not been exposed to the entire scope of an SLPs practice, especially since I mostly observed adults and not children.  Master Clinician allows you to watch pre recorded therapy session online and its been amazing. It has been a great experience and there are a variety of videos. You can search specific types of sessions-AAC, children, adults, TBI etc. whatever your heart desires. The cost was 35.00 for the year if you’re a student and thus far it has been a great experience. The best part is that you can watch from any device at your own convenience. I’ve even watched some sessions while working out on the elliptical.

If you’re looking for somewhere to get some more hours of observation or just want to gain some more experience with other types of therapy sessions and techniques Master Clinician is a great resource. There are a lot of comments you can read from other students and many of the therapists tell you there objectives and give you a history of the client they are working with in their summary or during the videos.

The classes at Longwood have also been great and they are flexible enough to study on my own time.

Besides that the summer in DC is getting HOT and I started working at the school speech and hearing clinic which is in itself has become a  learning experience. As the summer creeps by I continue my summer reading list-I’ve added about four other books to my list and they have all been insightful , informative and overall great reads. I recently bought a shirt from politics and prose-my favorite bookstore- that reads ” so many books so little time”, that sums up my summer reading, I’ve devoured four books and bought another five 🙂



Pre Grad School Summer Reading List- The SLP edition 

After being accepted to Graduate School this year, 

 -I can imagine like everyone- 

I went to the forum boards to find out what I could do to prepare.

I think most, for the most part,  are over achievers and will  do anything and everything to have a leg up on our course work. 

The ambiguity and suspense of it all serves as the driving force. 

What should we be doing? 

Should we be reading?

Should we be working more?

Should we be learning something? AHHHHHHHHH


Well after hours of scurrying , going through grad cafe forums and talking to current and former students  they all seemed to have one big message.


Well, that was uneventful.


That’s really hard to do if you’ve been working your butt off like I have to get into graduate school.

It’s really hard to do. 

I did find that there were a lot of book suggestions to read before starting and books that were assigned in graduate courses. 

Finally an activity that fills my need to do something and simultaneously serves to RELAX me. 

I begin my journey to relaxation and  compiled a list,  so far Its been great and definitely insightful. I am actually learning things too, even if it’s how to better relate to future clients. 

So drum roll please!

Here is the list of books I am reading this summer in no particular order.

Schuyler’s Monster: A Father’s Journey with His Wordless Daughter by St. Martin’s Griffin

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: A Memoir of Life in Death by Jean Dominique Bauby 

Where is the Mango Princess? A Journey Back from Brain Injury by Cathy Crimmins

Look me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger’s by John Elder Robinson 

So far I’ve finished ” Where is the Mango Princess?” and started “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”. 

 I’ll be posting follow-up blogs on each novel with some tad bits and reviews. 

So far, “Where is the Mango princess?” has served as an insight into a patient’s and his families perspective and journey with TBI!