By: Maggie Barilka

What were you doing prior to enrolling at TC? How would you describe your background?

Before enrolling at TC, I completed my undergraduate degree at the University of Virginia (go Hoos!) in Communication Sciences and Disorders with a minor in Drama. I was heavily involved in drama at UVA, as well as giving back to the Charlottesville community through a myriad of community service projects, including coaching Girls on the Run, volunteering as a teaching assistant at a local elementary school and volunteering at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Virginia. I was fortunate to work with a lot of different students in my time at UVA, and thought I would become a pediatric speech-language pathologist—spoiler alert: I have pivoted, and now see myself working more with adults!

Why did you choose the Communication Sciences and Disorders program at TC?

My main reason was the opportunity to learn from some of the most innovative researcher-clinicians in the field. I have wanted to become a speech pathologist since I was in high school, so being able to study under some of the brightest minds in the field was an opportunity I could not refuse. Also, given my theater background, I jumped at the chance to live in New York City!

What have been some of your favorite courses at TC? 

Some of my favorite courses are Dysphagia and my clinical placement at Mount Sinai Hospital. Dysphagia (aka swallowing disorders) was co-taught by Dr. Michelle Troche and Dr. James Curtis, and their passion for the subject matter really shone through. Not only did they provide meaningful lectures, but they also made sure we were grasping the material through hands-on “lab” experience during the class. Because I am interested in the medical side of speech pathology, I feel that Dysphagia truly prepared me for my clinical placements, most notably my placement at Mount Sinai Hospital this past summer. During this experience, I was working hands-on in the acute inpatient division of the hospital, treating patients with a variety of swallowing and language impairments. I learned so much from this experience and I am grateful to Teachers College for coordinating it!

How has your experience been with your classmates and other students at TC?

Teachers College truly has been one of the most welcoming and supportive communities I have ever been a part of. My classmates are so incredibly collaborative, and are so quick to start a study group or share information they have learned. In a field that can feel somewhat competitive at times, it is nice to have the support of my classmates throughout my studies. We even have a shared Google Drive of class notes and job prospects!

What has your impression of NYC been so far? 

As a Jersey native, I grew up coming to NYC for Broadway shows and weekend outings. However, I had never lived here before. Living in NYC has been such a dream come true, and I have thoroughly enjoyed the amazing restaurants, museums, and things to do! You can truly never be bored here! I have been able to take advantage of the TC Museum Passport to peruse most of the museums in NYC for free! The other day I took a stroll to the MoMA for a few hours to check out their new exhibits for Black History Month!

What are your goals after you graduate?

After I graduate, I have to complete a clinical fellowship in speech pathology prior to receiving my Certificate of Clinical Competence. I have been interviewing for positions in hospitals, specifically working in acute care. Although I have enjoyed living in NYC, I will go wherever the best opportunity will take me!

What advice or tips would you give to prospective students?

Don’t be afraid to reach out to the Admission team at TC! They are truly there to help you and make sure you are making the right decision in terms of finding the best program for you. Also, it is important to give yourself grace in the admissions process. You have already made the huge step in deciding to pursue a graduate degree, and this is something to be incredibly proud of! If admitted, make sure you weigh all the pros and cons of each program, and talk to students in the program prior to making the decision. If you’re a CSD student, I would be happy to chat with you! 🙂

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