Felice Clark is a certified speech therapist, also known as a speech-language pathologist, or SLP, with the Twin Rivers Unified School District in Sacramento. Clark earned a bachelor’s degree in speech pathology and audiology at Sacramento State University, and then stayed on to get her master’s degree in the same specialty. She keeps her certification from The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association current through ongoing education. Clark handles a caseload of more than 70 students at Babcock and Oakdale Elementary Schools, with issues including autism, stuttering and a wide range of articulation, voice and language disorders.
What was involved in getting your bachelor’s degree?
In addition to two years of general education, Clark completed two years of coursework specific to speech pathology. “The types of classes were diverse,” she says, “because the field is so broad.” One of the more challenging courses, referred to by students as “hearing class,” included the in-depth study of anatomy, neurology, brain function and hearing disorders. Clark says she was fascinated to learn the science of how sounds, words and vowels are formed by the tongue, noting how “one tiny sound or movement can change the whole word.” She says the coursework, intense and heavy on theory, “helped lay the foundation of what we do on the job every day.”
How were your master’s studies different?
The two-year master’s program was much more advanced and hands-on, and included internships and three semesters of graduate clinics, working directly with clients of all ages, writing lesson plans, creating client goals and objectives and designing and applying therapy plans. “Grad school was actually really helpful for the real world,” Clark notes, “learning and trying so many things made me a better therapist.” She particularly valued the “fun and supportive community of people in speech therapy, teachers and mentors” who met weekly to discuss their casework. “Every client is different and you have to use different techniques,” Clark says. “You can’t just read it out of a book.”
Has your education helped in other ways?
Clark says she gained many skills in school that she applies every day to her work and life. The mother of two learned how to analyze, be detail oriented, avoid assumptions and judgments, prioritize and, perhaps most importantly, how to manage her time effectively.
Valerie Heimerich is a freelance writer out of Sacramento. She typically covers animals and community issues. She has volunteered and worked for many organizations helping animals and people.
Her work can be found at Examiner.com.