Personal Statement for Grad School for Speech Pathology
Growing up with a sister who had a communication disorder as a child, I have always been fully aware of how difficult it can be for a child who stands out from her peers because of the unusual way she (or he) speaks. My sister, Maggie, had an odd way of speaking. She would make her words longer and say her name as "Maaaaaaaggie". She would pause a lot between her words and press her lips hard. She would often be unable to complete a sentence that she wanted to say and then go completely silent. It was clear to my parents that Maggie was having trouble communicating.
When I was nine, I went with my parents and my sister who was seven, to a speech pathologist for one of Maggie's sessions. I found Maggie's condition slowly changing over the period of a few months. The speech therapist was very patient with Maggie, gave her little projects to do and rewarded her with stickers when she'd completed the projects. The therapist also gave me advice on how to talk to Maggie at home to help her feel more comfortable. I became very interested and invested in this therapy that was helping Maggie get back her confidence to speak again. She then made a friend and started to look forward to school. I remember that was what made me realize how important the therapist's role had been.
Maggie also hated school and would often go and hide, in her cupboard every morning when it was time for the school bus to come. Later I found out that her classmates would say things like "You sound funny" or "You have a talking problem". Kids at that age are likely to be very blunt and say things like that. But that doesn't make it any less hard for a child who is already having trouble relating to others and communicating with them. Maggie must have felt alone and confused and most of all different - not in a good way! She must have found it very difficult to make friends. I always felt helpless that I couldn't help her since it was difficult to get her to talk to me.
It was this experience with my sister's speech therapy that got me interested in communication in children. During high school, I shadowed a speech therapist at school and another therapist at a local hospital. I found out that speech pathology can be challenging yet highly rewarding. I was particularly interested in learning how to help children communicate. It also helped that I love the company of children and can also get along well with them.
I understand that speech pathology needs a lot of patience. It can be difficult to persuade slow learning children and children who get easily distracted to listen to me. I understand that it may also take a while to get results. However the rewards of being able to help a child make a new friend at school or improve their reading skills, I believe, makes up for all the difficulties. The therapists I have shadowed have all agreed that the joy they feel when a child they have been working with for some time has even a small breakthrough is overwhelming.
I want to pursue a career that I feel passionate about. I should be able to feel the same way for my job even ten years down the line, and I believe that my interest in this field will remain unchanged in the future. That is why I believe I will be able to work with dedication and determination in this area. My undergraduate course in Communication Sciences and Disorders has not deterred me from the path that I have chosen.
Speech pathologists, I believe, also need people skills and I get along well with people, especially children. I have volunteered in community crèches and hospital playrooms since high school. I believe we also need to have a certain measure of imagination and creativity in order to be able to overcome obstacles. Since each child is an individual, I believe that each of them should be handled in a unique way.
I want to apply for a higher degree in a graduate school in order to enable me to deal even better with children having speech difficulties and hearing problems. I want to apply to your university because I am aware of the courses you offer and believe that they will give me the opportunity to launch my career as a speech pathologist.
Eventually, I hope to be able to specialize in a specific aspect of speech disorders and working with children. I am aware that a Masters degree in this field will open up specializations such as audiology and oral motor therapy. While I am still unsure of which specialization I would like to practice in, I believe that your course will be able to help me decide.
I have read several articles that report incidents in which children have successfully worked towards normal speech because of their speech therapists. In all of these, I've noted that it is not only the patients that benefit from these exercises. The therapists who go through the emotionally draining yet rewarding experience also learn a lot. I believe this role, like many health care roles, teaches you to become more patient and sensitive as human beings. I believe interacting with my patients will help me grow professionally and enhance my knowledge.
I want to pursue a career in which I can change lives. Both my parents are in the healthcare industry. I have therefore seen how satisfying roles in this industry can be. I would love to be able to bring a child afraid of school to learn to love it. I want to help children who are unable to carry out basic activities lead normal lives. I want to be able to give parents the hope that their children will also be able to make friends and pursue their dreams. Most of all I want to be a responsible member of society who can offer support to those in need.