The second cohort of speech language pathologists are graduating from the University of Delaware Communication Sciences and Disorders program. In the last two years, 48 students have graduated from this program, which started enrolling students in 2016.
As this program grows, we look back on last year’s inaugural class of 26 graduates.
The Class of 2018 set a high bar for those following them, with all students passing the PRAXIS exam in speech-language pathology. (This year’s class of 22 students did the same.) Of those who graduated in 2018, eight took jobs in Delaware, helping to ease a critical shortage of speech language pathologists in the state. That shortage was one of the reasons for the addition of the CSCD program to the University of Delaware.
Amanda Nichols is one of those grads who stayed in Delaware following graduation, taking a job as a full-time speech language pathologist at the Appoquinimink Preschool Center in Middletown. She enrolled in UD’s program after completing her undergraduate degree at James Madison University.
“I was looking for a graduate program close to home in order to save some money while completing my master’s degree, but I also found the idea of participating in a brand new program really exciting,” said Nichols, who addressed the Class of 2019 during exercises Friday in the Audion at the Tower at STAR. “I feel like every member of my class helped shape the program into what it is today, and I still feel so honored to have been a part of the UD CSCD program’s inaugural class.”
Working in Delaware as a SLP was an opportunity Nichols said she couldn’t turn down, but it also gave her a welcome chance to apply what she learned both in the classroom and in UD Health’s Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic.
“We covered a variety of techniques within each course, but then were given the opportunity to use those same techniques during hands-on experiences,” Nichols said.
Adriana Aldrich is another 2018 grad, working for the Red Clay Consolidated School District in its Meadowood Program for students with moderate to severe disabilities. She works with students who have complex communication needs and use augmentative and alternative communication devices (AAC) and the picture exchange communication system (PECS) as well as other students who need help with their social skills.
Aldrich said the most valuable part of her UD graduate education was learning to be flexible. “I’m sure this wasn’t a goal of the program but I think that it has helped me in other aspects of life and, now, my actual career,” Aldrich said.
Speaking at Friday’s ceremony for the Class of 2019, state Rep. Valerie Longhurst reminded graduates that their newly earned degree is the foundation of their success upon which they will build their careers.
Longhurst worked with UD and state officials to bring the CSCD program to fruition after hearing from constituents about the need for more speech language pathologists in the state. She praised the program for helping Delaware’s children get the services they desperately need at school.
She told the Class of 2019 that their work as speech language pathologists has the power to profoundly shape someone’s life.
“You have the power, the super power to give a voice to others,” Longhurst told them. “I want you to take that super power and make your voice heard, and other voices heard.”