Deborah Hughes is a senior communication sciences & disorders major graduating in May of 2018. As an online student living in Atlanta, GA, and a veteran, she offers a unique look at what it’s like to study at USFSM.
How did you hear about the USFSM CSD program all the way from Atlanta, GA?
I have a special needs son whose speech therapist graduated from this program. When I was laid off from my first career, I was talking to her about my passion, and she highly recommended this program.
What is your favorite class in the program so far and why?
This is very tough to answer because I have enjoyed every single class. If I had to narrow it down to just one class, it would be Neuroanatomy. At first I was completely horrified at the name of the class and was extremely worried that I wouldn’t do well at all, but this class was absolutely fascinating. This was a very eye-opening class for me because there have been several people in my life that have suffered things I have never heard of and/or understood. This class really brought those disorders/diseases into the forefront of my understanding, and now I am able to better communicate and understand their needs.
Who in the CSD program has helped you become successful?
There is no way to narrow it down to just one person. In my experience, every single instructor has made me feel successful. Everyone genuinely cares and wants each student to succeed and understand the concepts being taught. I was very worried about all of my classes being online because I am a very face-to-face type of student who needs that interaction, but this program and these instructors allow that ‘face-to-face’ feeling to come through their teachings.
I am also an older student, so some of my life experiences have brought some opinions or questions directly related to the issues being taught, and every instructor was willing to listen to my experience and help me process the differences of what is “book taught” versus the reality of what I have experienced without any judgment. We were able to have in-depth conversations regarding some of my experiences that didn’t necessarily line up to the book.
As a veteran, why did you pick the CSD program and how is this program going to benefit you in the future?
I believe I have always had a passion for working with children but never knew in what capacity. Because this is my second career, I didn’t have any veteran benefits left, but I signed up and still try to remain engaged in the vet program. I actually was very blessed to receive a scholarship through the vet program, and I was able to use that money to help pay for classes. I believe this program is definitely going to benefit me in the future by allowing me to pursue my passion of working with kids and by allowing me the opportunity to provide communication skills to children and families that need that help. As a parent of a non-verbal child, I never realized how my son was communicating until the speech language pathologist (SLP) helped me better understand how he was communicating. This is so powerful. From that moment on, I knew I was going to help kids and parents better understand how to communicate or understand how their child is communicating in order to lessen the frustration.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Within the next five years, I see myself as an SLP-CCC graduate who owns her own pediatric clinic in the metro-Atlanta area that will provide services for speech, occupational and physical therapies.
Do you have any final thoughts or comments about the CSD program or USFSM?
I will never have enough words to accurately describe my experience with USFSM online. This has been life-changing for me, and I cannot wait to see how all of this unfolds within the next several years. This program is a must for anyone who is seeking to be a speech pathologist. The faculty is amazing! The instructors all give real-life scenarios and really focus on helping students understand exactly what to expect once we enter the workforce. I will forever be grateful to each and every professor I have had throughout this program, and I would love to see USFSM work with the various military branch discharge locations for more veterans to learn about these opportunities.