Community | Heena – “Just a Grad Student Trying to Make It out with her Sanity”

Heena in New York City

Heena is a graduate student from Connecticut who reached out to me about a summer internship. If you don’t know, SLP Grad School is really competitive, and it just got a whole lot more competitive. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to provide her with one, but she was sweet enough to answer my questions. Here’s what we discussed. I may have made some tweaks here and there for grammar or to make things make sense to the readers (can’t help it – I’m an SLP):

What’s the hardest thing about grad school right now?

The hardest thing about grad school currently is the level of uncertainty we’re all facing. Many of us will not be graduating because we don’t have the necessary hours since many medical placements were cancelled due to COVID.¬†Half the cohort was able to secure teletherapy placements and will be finishing by the end of this month. The other half is waiting for the final word on placements. It’s been stressful and overwhelming; however, everyone is remaining as optimistic as they can.¬†

What makes you excited about the field of Speech-language pathology? 

I love knowing how versatile our field is. There is so much we can do to make a difference. There is no better feeling than seeing the real, measurable impact that you have on an individual and their family. It’s an amazing feeling when a patient is proud and motivated by the progress they’ve made. SLPs have an opportunity to be a positive part of what is often a very long and challenging journey. 

Where do you look for ideas for practicum/therapy activities?

Facebook pages are my go-to! I love the amount of support and guidance I’ve seen over the past few months among SLPs. I’ve seen so many innovative and fun activities that I would have never thought of such as, virtual field trips to aquariums and zoos! I am so thankful that there is a community of people that is constantly sharing activities and resources to help others in their practice. 

What would make your life easier as a grad student? 

My friends and I always talk about how mental health often takes a back seat during grad school. Graduate school is so rigorous and requires so much out of you, that we often forget to take care of ourselves. Life would be easier if we could decrease the intensity and pressure of being perfect and remind students that their mental health should also be a priority. 

How would you share your passion for Speech Pathology with the world if money and time were no object? 

I would love to travel to other countries and learn how public health is addressed. I often wonder how children who present with speech and language delays receive services? Are there programs such as ours (early childhood intervention) that exist in developing countries? I want to understand how we can expand speech pathology with the world so parents of children with autism and other developmental disorders can be empowered and given resources. I would love to give back to communities that are under-served and underdeveloped because these are the communities that need our help the most.

Community Action Items

First of all, I am reminded of being an optimistic grad student. I love interviewing people at the start of their career, it reminds me why I love what I do. Here are my major takeaways:

  • Someone, please reach out if you have an internship for this young woman! I would love to help her reach her goals ON TIME.
  • If you are in a position this summer where you can provide an internship, reach out to a local grad program and let them know.
  • If you are from another country and reading this interview, I’d love to interview you and get some of Heena’s questions answered.
  • Graduate professors: please start modeling self-care to students. Getting into school requires so much energy and perfectionism, that we’re creating a field full of perfectionists (myself included). Let’s think about how we can shift that.

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