Clinical Assistant Professor, Speech-language Pathology Program
In the News
From the NIU Newsroom, December 5, 2022
NIU clinic launches new program to empower students with disabilities
What year did you start working at NIU?
Where is your hometown? and where do you live now?
My hometown is Elgin, Illinois, but I live in Huntley.
Where did you attend college and what degree(s) have you earned?
I attended Elgin Community College for an associate degree, then transferred to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and received my bachelor's in communications. I finished my post-bacc and received my master's degree at NIU in speech-language pathology (SLP).
What do you like about working at NIU?
I knew I wanted to be a faculty member here one day immediately after starting my graduate program. I had an incredible experience with my supervisors, and they really inspired me to explore all areas of the field. I love the supervision side of my job. The students challenge me to continue learning and growing, which is one of the reasons I wanted to work here. I love collaborating with the incredible faculty and staff and feeling supported in the pursuit of my professional goals. Also, the job flexibility and the benefits are second to none.
What advice would you give to students currently attending NIU?
Put on your seatbelt for this (I watch a lot of motivational videos): Prioritize your emotional and physical health so you can "show up" every day to reach your potential. Reflect on what it means to have grit and to take initiative. Make the choice to work REALLY hard to achieve your dreams every single day. Consider constructive feedback from people you respect and admire. If you need help, seek it out. Take advantage of every opportunity and resource that the university and community offers to learn more, connect with others and develop your skills. Start envisioning your retirement (it's never too early!) and formulate a plan to make it happen, even if that is just writing out your goals. Think about and plan your long-term and short-term personal and professional goals, allowing life to surprise you with something better. In every experience you encounter, take something positive away from it and practice gratitude regularly.
Tell us about a research or engaged learning project you have led.
I have been working with Dr. Allison Gladfelter for a few years on research investigating the benefits of incorporating hippotherapy into speech-language intervention sessions. Hippotherapy is a fancy term for including the horse as a treatment tool in speech-language, physical or occupational therapy sessions. We published a paper together in 2020 and are working on a few projects now. Stay tuned!
What do you hope students take away from your class?
I hope the students getting clinical experience with me learn more than just how to assess and treat clients with speech-language needs. While that is the most important part of our job, there are many skills that we use and tasks that need to be completed behind the scenes to make assessing and treating possible. I strive to educate the students on being professional, building their own brand, advocating for the field and connecting what they learn in their academic classes with clinical practice, as well as navigating the financial, business and insurance sides of the job.
What is your favorite campus event?
STEM Fest is wonderful! I also really like the annual Interdisciplinary Case Study event. I'm not a huge sports fan, but I think sports events are great for building comradery and loyalty.
What is your favorite memory of NIU?
I really enjoyed building relationships and studying with my friends when I was in my graduate program. If I had to pick just one favorite memory, I'd say it would be celebrating the completion of each semester (at Fatty's, most often) with the other students in my program. Of course, we all had water and pop.
Who has influenced your professional path?
The first ones to really influence my professional path were my parents, as they owned their own DJ business. Though I didn't become a DJ, I learned so many lessons just by watching how they interacted with others and helping them at work. This would be a really long answer if I named everyone, so I'll just speak generally. I've been blessed with many mentors, supervisors and colleagues whom I admire and regularly touch base with. So many people have influenced my professional path, including professors I've had here at NIU and at UIUC. I try to surround myself with positive and supportive people, those with lots of life experience and those who challenge me. Those are the people who have influenced me most.
What did you want to be when you were growing up? Are you currently doing it? If not, what changed your path?
I wanted to be a veterinarian because I love horses. As I grew older, I realized I wanted to do something that incorporated horses and people, but I had no idea how to tie those two together in a way that brought me joy. While studying at UIUC, I was set to graduate unimpassioned with my degree. I visited the Career Center for guidance, and the staff there matched my personal and professional profile with the speech-language pathology field. This surprised me, as I didn't even know the field existed. After I started my graduate program at NIU, one of the clinical supervisors found a way to connect my dream of working with people and horses in the SLP field a reality. What I am doing now for work is even better than what I imagined as a child.
Are you a member of or hold a position within a professional organization? If so, what organization? What is the purpose of that organization and how does being part of this organization benefit you in your role at NIU?
Yes, I am a member of a few professional organizations. The Illinois Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ISHA), American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), American Hippotherapy Association (AHA) and the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH Intl.) all provide resources and guidance for me as a practicing SLP and advocate for the field. A large part of my role is to supervise future SLP clinicians, so having the resources these organizations offer at my disposal is crucial to being the best supervisor I can be.
What community organizations are you involved in?
I am very involved in my church. Most recently, I've been teaching Sunday school and working in the nursery. In the summer, I like to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity. I also regularly volunteer as an exercise horseback rider at a clinic that incorporates hippotherapy.
What do you do to relax or recharge?
I love to play with and train my dogs (we have two Native American Indian dogs), horseback ride, read, garden, exercise, sit by the fire, can produce and clean my house (I know, strange). This past summer, I found out we have a bearing cherry tree. I went a little overboard canning jam and cherries with my grandma, but it was relaxing in a methodical sort of way. I also am working on writing a children's book. That's been really fun to write and work to publish.