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Samantha Pfeil

Master of Science in Speech Language Pathology, Alumna

Hometown: North Branch, MN




MS, Saint Mary's College
BA, Butler University

Why did you pursue this degree?  
I always had an interest in helping children. At first I thought I would be a teacher, but was later introduced to speech and language therapy. Speech gave me the ability to work with a variety of students with a variety of abilities.

What has been the most rewarding part of the program?  
The most rewarding parts for me were the clinical experiences I had. I got to work with wonderful clients at the St. Mary's Clinic, Memorial Hospital Outpatient, and schools from the area. I learned so much about myself as a young clinician, and developed my skills to prepare me for my first job.

What has been the most valuable part of your experience in the graduate program? 
The most valuable part of graduate school for me was the one-on-one work I had with my supervisors. In all settings I was given support, advice, and suggestions as I continued in the field. The criticism was fair and respectful. I also felt I had a strong relationship in which I could openly talk with my supervisors, ask questions, and fail in my attempts knowing it would help me grow.

Please describe your experience with the faculty.
The faculty was amazing. I have never met a group of professors that cares more about its students and their personal, clinical, and academic lives. If something was happening in our lives they would support us, if we were struggling in a class they found a way to help fill the gap. All of the Speech-Language Pathology professors are extremely knowledgeable and they know how to share and teach in ways that help you to learn and think critically.

What advice do you have for prospective students?
My advice for prospective students is to go to a school that you feel connected to. Make a visit prior to applying/making a decision, talk to the professors, and if you feel comfortable then you will be able to survive the two years. Also, have a balance in grad school. YES. It is a lot of work and it will run your life, but take time for yourself to do what makes you happy. Take time to have adventures, workout, take a nap, watch netflix for 8 hours. If you're in grad school you're obviously passionate about the field, but if you let it overwhelm you it won't be fun for long. Find a balance, work hard, and enjoy every minute knowing what is waiting at the finish line.

What is your favorite class and why?
My favorite class was our Aphasia class which is kind of odd because I much prefer to work with the school age population, but between the professor and the topic I just couldn't get enough. Aphasia is such an interesting diagnosis to me, and the professor was so knowledgeable that I enjoyed going to that class each day. From learning the areas in the brain that were affected, to the symptoms the individual displayed, and how that translated when you were assessing someone it was easily my favorite.

A typical week in graduate school.....

Monday: workout, class, lunch, class, study, sleep
Tuesday: workout, clinical work (either in the Saint Mary's clinic or offsite)
Wednesday: workout, class, lunch, class, class, study, sleep
Thursday: workout, clinical work, study
Friday: workout, clinical work, study or take the night off if you can spare it
Saturday: day off for mental health (unless there was a test coming up, then saturday is also a study day, ALL day)
Sunday: study off and on all day

If it looks like there was a lot of studying, that would be correct. Most of my down time was spent studying or working on some type of homework. There was a decent amount of reading and group projects, but nothing that was impossible to manage. Somehow our hardest tests always ended up being scheduled for the same day or week so that meant a long weekend of studying Friday night, all day Saturday, and all day Sunday. As important as it is to study and/or prepare for clinical work it is also important to take time for yourself. Have some balance and allow for mental health time, otherwise graduate school will seem more overwhelming than it really is.

How has the program prepared you for your career?
This program gave me the knowledge to succeed in whichever area I wanted to pursue and clinically I was able to have externships in my area of interest. Between the classes and the clinical experiences I was given the tools to at least get me started in my own career. I learned a lot through the graduate school process, but that learning hasn't stopped and won't stop until I retire.