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Speech Pathology Student Makes a Difference

Kimberly Young
First Year Master’s Student, Speech Language Pathology
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Twice a week, Kimberly Young closes her textbooks and hits the road to a local school where she provides speech therapy to children with speech disorders as a part of her studies in Speech Pathology at the University of Illinois.

For weeks, she’s been working with a young girl, Sophia, with severe apraxia who is unable to pronounce the initial consonants of words (movie becomes “ovie”, popcorn becomes “opcorn”). Sophia is normal otherwise – she is a sweet, eager student and can sing perfectly – but her disorder makes it nearly impossible for her to be understood and earn good grades.

Young’s work with Sophia and her other young clients at the school is a part of the field work she must do in addition to her studies to earn her certification. She’ll spend over 400 clock hours in the field over the course of her four years of undergraduate work and now her two-year year-round graduate degree program, followed by months of unpaid school and hospital placements for experience, and finally a Clinical Fellowship Year.

“My Christie Foundation scholarship has had a very positive impact on my studies. I’m able to focus more on my studies and be sure I have the supplies and tools I need to be successful in my pursuits.”

Over the course of her studies and field placements and into her future career as a Speech Language Pathologist, Young will work with teams of other specialists to evaluate and diagnose speech, language, cognitive-communication, and swallowing disorders in individuals of all ages. She will work with clients with articulation errors (sounds or words they cannot say), lisps, shuttering, and more. She’ll see post-stroke and accident victims and quite a few people with autism.

“The team aspect of Speech Language Pathology is really exciting to me,” says Young. “Being able to collaborate with teachers, physicians, audiologists, psychologists, social workers, dentists, ENTs, pediatricians, occupational therapists, and others to bring the best care and solutions for clients is one of the best parts of this work.”

Young is a top student with a great GPA, a 14-hour class load, eight hours of work with students at the local school each week (plus the lesson plans each student she sees requires), and 20 hours of work in UIUC’s Student Employment office and doing transcription work for a special education professor.

“Making a difference is really important to me,” says Young. “I love seeing the joy when people make a breakthrough – when they learn and accomplish new things and make real progress.”