Madelynn Parrott is a communicative disorders major from Edelstein, IL
Hometown: Edelstein, IL
Year: Expected graduation: 2021
Major: Communicative disorders
What did you want to be when you were growing up? Are you pursuing that as a major, or have you taken another path?
I was always changing my mind about what I wanted to be when I was a little girl. For a while I wanted to be an adoption agent, then I wanted to be a lawyer and then a teacher. When I got to NIU, I still did not know what I wanted to be. I changed my major many times before I decided I wanted to be a speech-language pathologist and major in communicative disorders.
What is your major (and/or minor) and why did you decide on this course of study?
In the middle of my sophomore year of college, I claimed communicative disorders (COMD) as my major and knew I wanted to become a speech-language pathologist. At the time, my 2-year-old sister was being treated by a speech-language pathologist, and I was able to observe how she helped my sister learn how to talk. Ultimately, I want to be able to help people and feel challenged yet confident in my career. I believe being a speech-language pathologist is the perfect choice for me.
What has been something you have found pleasantly surprising about your experience at NIU?
Before I chose COMD as my major, I tried several different majors, and none of the faculty in the other departments are anywhere near as amazing as the faculty in the COMD department. All of the professors have helped way more than I possibly could have imagined with learning in general and the graduate program preparation process. They go above and beyond.
How have you connected with other students virtually to study for classes, meet new people or form new friendships?
For my Intro to Hearing and Speech Sciences course, about 15 or so students met on Microsoft Teams consistently throughout the semester to study for exams and ask questions. It was such a blessing to be able to talk to other students and hear their concerns, because we don't get to do that anymore with online classes. I feel like I did the best I could in that class because of the virtual meet-ups between all of us.
Are you involved in any student organizations, mentoring programs or extra-curricular activities? If so, which ones? How have they added to your experience as a Huskie?
I am currently involved in the Communicative Disorders Student Association (COMDSA), Music and Memory and Deaf Pride. I was the vice president of the International Student Organization last semester as well. I have been involved with COMDSA for the past two years and was president this year. COMDSA is a service-based student organization composed of COMD majors. It focuses on creating volunteer opportunities to help our members gain experience in areas related to communicative disorders. COMDSA has prioritized uplifting and strengthening the social connection and peer camaraderie lost due to this year's virtual format and has intertwined it with our dedication to the professional advancement of our members and our diversity-focused initiative. I feel extremely blessed to have been voted in as president by my peers because it has been a wonderful learning experience for me. I have gotten to know a lot of other students and faculty in the COMD department. Being able to create events and opportunities for our COMD peers has been challenging because of COVID-19, but the COMDSA executive board has been able to work together to creatively reach our members and have fun doing it. I have also been the treasurer of Music and Memory for the past two years. Music and Memory works with people with dementia in a local nursing home and runs different programs to help them with language and connection. Before COVID-19, Music and Memory members would go to the nursing home and listen to music with the residents. Now, we have a program called Zoom Pals that gives students the opportunity to talk to a resident for 20-30 minutes twice a week. Music and Memory also makes memory books for residents. There is research showing that memory books help stimulate language and memory for people with dementia, so we have taken this opportunity to virtually make memory books and give them to the residents. Lastly, I've been an active member of Deaf Pride for the past two years. Deaf Pride is my outlet to be strictly a member and not have a leadership position. I have a ton of fun signing to everyone over Zoom (even though it is a little difficult at times) and learning more about Deaf culture and the language.
Who has been one of your favorite instructors/professors and why? What course did they teach?
One of my favorite professors is Dr. Jamie Mayer. There is something about the way she teaches that makes me fall in love with the material and as she would say, "makes it make sense." My favorite course of all time has to be COMD 330 - Neuroscience. Dr. Mayer made a complex topic almost seem easy, and I felt very confident in my abilities after taking that course with her.
Where is your favorite spot on campus or in the community? Why are you drawn to it?
I'd have to say that my favorite spot in the community would be La Michoacana. I love ice cream, and I believe it has the best ice cream in the world.
What advice would you give to a student who is applying to colleges?
My advice would be to take a deep breath. I was anxious about not getting into the schools I wanted to get into. Colleges want you to come, so don't stress out too much about the details. There are people at the colleges who are there to help you. You just have to reach out and ask for help and take a deep breath.
Coming to college, what is something that you have had to learn to do differently?
I definitely learned how to manage my time differently when I got to college. I used to stay up very late to get all my homework done, but when I got to college, there was no way I could get everything completed without falling asleep. Being involved with several organizations and being a full-time student, I learned pretty quickly that I had to adjust how I spent my time.
What do you do to relax or recharge?
I do a lot of different things in my free time to help me recharge, but my favorite one is listening to music or browsing through vinyls at a record store. I also enjoy just sitting down with a cup of tea and watching a movie.
Is there anything else you'd like to share about your NIU Huskie story?
As a senior, I am very grateful I have gotten the opportunity to be at NIU all four years of my undergraduate career. I have met some awesome people, and I would not have been able to make it through if it was not for my family, friends and professors.
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