Inspiring the Next Generation: Promoting Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology Careers to High School Students

When you’re young, you don’t always know what career path you’ll end up on. For so many students, we may hear about the professions because of the experiences of those close to us. I learned about the professions when my younger brother received speech therapy in elementary school. However, it was not until I took a few courses in the last semester of my senior year of college that I thought about pursuing a career in the professions.

Like me, many students don’t know about or consider the professions as a career option until college. As the population grows more professionals will be needed to care for patients, clients, and students across the lifespan. Engaging high school students, particularly those from diverse backgrounds, can help us ensure that more students are considering audiology and speech-language pathology. I had the opportunity to present to Maryland high school students as part of a collaboration between National NSSLHA, Montgomery County Public Schools, the Maryland Speech-Language-Hearing Association (MSHA), and ASHA to promote careers in audiology and speech-language pathology. Through this experience, I learned some great tips to help engage high school students.

My Journey to Audiology

As a part of the presentation, I shared my journey to audiology. In college, I majored in linguistics because I loved learning how our minds process language. I started to learn more about how certain disorders can impact hearing and language processing, and how speech and hearing professionals can provide interventions for patients with these disorders. Learning that I could pursue such a career where I could not only continue to learn about what I was passionate about but also help people was incredibly exciting for me.

After I graduated, I took prerequisite courses to be eligible to apply for an SLP Master’s program. Yes, this is a very common thread among many AuDs-to-be! During this time, I took courses in audiology and found the field so fascinating. I loved learning about the combination of art and science that is involved in the diagnosis and intervention of hearing loss and other auditory pathologies. I was also interested in learning more about getting involved in research, especially audiologic research like the intersection between cognition and hearing. Not knowing about the professions earlier led me to take a few extra steps before pursuing my career. In the future, I hope more students will learn about the professions early and can skip the “extra” steps.

Engaging High School Students

Lynne Stevens, an SLP who works for the Montgomery County Schools, has spearheaded this joint collaboration to engage high school students. She reached out to National NSSLHA and ASHA to find resources and engage National NSSLHA members and student leaders in high school presentations. In December 2023, Lynne, Karen Miranda, President of the Maryland Speech-Language-Hearing Association, the school’s SLP, and I presented at Gaithersburg High School in Gaithersburg, MD. The experience was incredible!

Over 25 students signed up for the presentation. I loved their curiosity! I brought in some demo hearing aids to show the students the types of devices I work with in the clinic. I was glad that they had the chance to have a hands-on experience. The school’s SLP also brought in an AAC device, and the students enjoyed exploring how it worked. These hands-on experiences are foundational to getting students interested in the professions.

Quick Tips for Presenting to High School Students

If you are presenting to high school students about the professions for the first time:

1. Don’t be nervous!

It is valuable for young students to hear from current graduate students and young professionals because they can more easily see themselves in you. Be sure to breathe and remember they are excited to hear from you.

2. Answer questions enthusiastically and honestly.

Students do not know what they do not know, so think about what you would have liked to know about our field before pursuing your career and present that information with a balance of details and conciseness. The students will be curious and inquisitive, so leave room for questions and discussion.

3. Bring something to show and tell.

Bring in items to explore, such as an AAC device or hearing aid mold, to give students a hands-on experience. You can get creative and play a game, show a video, or bring in other therapy materials to keep them engaged throughout the presentation.

4. Lastly, be excited!

It’s so important to spread awareness about audiology and speech pathology. It’s exciting to give back and guide others exploring this career path! Share insights about your classes and clinical experiences. I really look up to my supervisors and professors for their support and guidance, and I can only hope to offer the same to others in the future. It is so exciting to share more about my career path with students!

Be sure to check out ASHA and National NSSLHA for materials and presentations that you can use to present to high school students. You can also point interested students to or for more information, including tips on how to plan their education or find scholarships.

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