As an online graduate student, mom of two young children, and past elementary school teacher, Jennifer Markiewicz isn’t what some would call a “traditional” student. But when she realized something was missing from her teaching career, nothing would stop her from changing course and reaching her dream to become an SLP.
Quick Facts About Jennifer
- Currently pursuing SLP master’s degree at Emerson College
- Fulfilled post-baccalaureate coursework at Utah State University
- Holds a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from Georgia Southern University
- Husband, Bryce; 2 children—Charlotte (4) and James (2); dalmatian, Louie
- 2020-2021 National NSSLHA Member
What Inspired You to Go Back to School to Pursue Speech-Language Pathology?
When my youngest brother was almost 2 years old, he was diagnosed with a sensory processing disorder. Prior to his diagnosis, he spoke only a few words and struggled to communicate his needs to us. His SLP had a huge impact on our whole family by giving us the chance to connect with him. She began teaching all of us basic sign language, which quickly increased his vocabulary. This made an immediate difference in our family. As he progressed through elementary school, he was able to catch up with his peers and I credit this to the SLPs who helped him along the way.
After having our daughter in 2016, I reflected on my career as an elementary school teacher—while I loved teaching, something felt like it was missing. I realized I was searching for ways to have a more powerful impact on young children at the individual level, as well as being a stronger support and resource for family members. I thought back to my brother and couldn’t imagine a more rewarding career than giving families what my brother’s SLP gave to us.
What Are Your Professional Goals?
With the discounted rate as a National NSSLHA member, I attended the 2019 ASHA Convention in Orlando, Florida. I wanted to see what career options were available to me in the SLP field and get the chance to meet other NSSLHA members. It really opened my eyes to the many specialties available to SLPs. After attending some sessions about hearing loss, I became interested in working with children who have cochlear implants. One day hope to have my own private practice.
It’s also really important to me to volunteer with organizations like Smiles for Speech, where I can provide SLP services to children in disadvantaged communities around the world.
What Tips Do You Have for Other Students Following “Untraditional” Paths to CSD?
Seek Out Friendships
Starting in 2020, even more of us experienced online education—and realized how isolating it can feel. While completing my pre-requisite coursework at Utah State, I utilized our Facebook community to make friends outside of the classroom, had study group Zoom sessions, and participated in their peer mentorship program. Throughout my courses, I’ve had to work a bit harder to make friends, but once I found students in similar shoes, it was worth it!
Manage Your Schedule
With a young family, managing everyone’s schedules can be challenging. My husband and I dedicate time each week to check in with each other what we have on our plates—who’s going to take the kids to school, when we’ll need a babysitter, which nights we’ll need to have an easy crockpot dinner, etc. Synching our schedules has been key to making our busier lifestyle work!
Take Advantage of National NSSLHA Membership Benefits
Take advantage of the opportunities being a National NSSLHA member provides, including:
- Attending the ASHA Convention at the National NSSLHA member discounted rate (once we’re able to again, of course) and learn about all of the opportunities we have as future SLPs and AuDs. It’s a great chance to network with other pre-professionals, National NSSLHA’s Executive Council, and professionals!
- Accessing ASHA Journal articles for research papers and as supplemental coursework materials.
- Reading the National NSSLHA Blog—this really helped me as I went through the grad school application process and they’ve helped me every semester of school.
I’m proud to be part of an organization full of other dreamers and doers! Every NSSLHA member I’ve met is so passionate about their future as an audiologist or speech-language pathologist. It inspires me to do all that I can to be the very best SLP National NSSLHA has been a huge resource to make that happen.