November 11, 2016 | Erin Bluvas, firstname.lastname@example.org
Many students struggle to find their ideal career path. Not Jenine Entwistle. She’s been hooked on speech-language pathology since her mom, a physical therapist, suggested the field to her likeminded daughter.
“We have very similar personalities and are passionate about working with people to make a difference in their lives,” says Entwistle. “I’m so glad she did recommend it, because it’s the best decision I have made.”
Her interest deepened after researching the field online and shadowing speech-language pathologists (SLP) during high school. By the time she began her undergraduate studies at the University of Connecticut, just 90 minutes from her hometown, she had set a goal to attend graduate school in the field right after completing her studies in speech language and hearing sciences.
As an undergrad, Entwistle took a couple graduate classes and shadowed professionals at the New England Center for Hearing Rehabilitation, solidifying her plans even further. “This was where I found my passion within the field of speech-language pathology working with children with hearing loss who use hearing aids and cochlear implants,” she says.
When it was time to choose a graduate program, the Arnold School’s Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders (COMD) stood out among her many options. “I was drawn to USC for their Auditory-Verbal Therapy (AVT) track specialization as part of their master’s program,” says Entwistle.
After expressing her interest in hearing loss research in her graduate application statement, she was selected as a research assistant under the mentorship of Assistant Professor Daniel Fogerty in his Speech Perception Laboratory. “I couldn’t pass up this great opportunity to work in his lab and also gain clinical experience with the USC Cochlear Implant Team,” she says.
Throughout her program, Entwistle refined her interests to focus on speech perception, hearing loss, and hearing technology (e.g., hearing aids and cochlear implants). Her research with Fogerty led to a peer-reviewed publication in The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. Her involvement with the USC AVT track allowed her to observe three cochlear implant surgeries, participate during cochlear implant initial hookups, and collaborate with Certified AVT professionals with diverse caseloads.
The rigorous preparation paid off for the 2015 Sharon G. Webber Endowed Fellowship Fund recipient, who graduated in August and is now a pediatric SLP with Sprout Pediatrics LLC in Lexington, S.C. Making the most of the Auditory-Verbal Therapy track that drew her to the COMD department in the first place, she is currently in the process of pursuing certification as a Listening and Spoken Language Specialist Certified Auditory-Verbal Therapist. With this certification, she can work with patients—specifically infants and children who are deaf or hard of hearing—and their families to help them achieve listening and spoken language. Also in her spare time, Entwistle attends events to support the families she works with, such as Columbia’s October Buddy Walk to celebrate Down Syndrome Awareness Month and promote acceptance and inclusion of people with Down Syndrome.
“USC’s program allows you to build clinical skills right from the start and gain experience with a variety of settings within the field of speech-language pathology,” Entwistle says of the Master of Speech Pathology program. “I feel as though my program prepared me with the clinical skills, evidence-based research and knowledge to start my career as an SLP.”