What happens when you fall in love with a university but it does not offer the major that you are interested in? Take a lesson from Anne Spence, Anna Manilla, Brooke Sheena, Holly Frederick and Katie Cox, and create an academic club centered on your field of interest. Last year, these five women established the Pre-Speech & Hearing Club so that interested students would have an environment where they could come together, collaborate and share resources.

Anna Manilla was pre-med her first two years at UM. After completing an internship at McLaren Oakland in Pontiac, where she worked with the resident speech pathologist, she fell in love with the pre-speech and hearing field and quickly transitioned out of pre-med. “I was pretty uneducated about speech and hearing before coming to UM. I think a lot of people in pre-med, regardless of their major, would be interested in learning about it. I think it’s very important to educate students about what it is.” Anne Spence knew initially that she wanted to do speech pathology. But, as each semester passed, she found herself drawn to the hearing end of the spectrum and is now pursuing audiology.

“Typically, students pursue a Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD) undergraduate degree, which UM no longer offers, when they are interested in pre-speech and hearing. When speaking to other students in our linguistics classes and finding out that they were also interested in speech and hearing, we realized that there were a lot of us and that we needed to get together to help each other prepare for graduate school,” explained Anne. Many of the students in this group are tied to Linguistics in some way, as it is the closest route to get to speech and hearing at UM. “We are extremely thankful for the Department of Linguistics because they have been so accommodating and supportive since we started,” says Anne, “It’s a great affirmation to hear that the work we put in as students is valued and considered worthy enough to be affiliated with the Department of Linguistics, despite the fact that pre-speech and hearing is outside the major.”

Promoting this organization is very important to Anne and Anna as speech and hearing sciences is a field that is expanding quickly and ever evolving to keep up with technology in a way that can appeal to students with varied interests. “So many students don’t know about us. For example, those who are interested in staying within the medical field but not becoming an MD can find incredible benefits in speech and hearing. We want to get out what speech and hearing means and what potential fields you could go into with it. You can work in schools, private practice, hospitals, etc. Having that diversity and ability to transition is very appealing. Regardless of where you are in your careers, you can transition with limited obstacles. In addition to that, we are a space for students to come together and to help each other. The board puts a lot of time and energy into planning meetings that are going to be helpful and productive. We have professional speakers come in, networking opportunities, we focus on topics like how to navigate the application process, how to present your resume, how to use the classes at U of M to create a path necessary for the educational route you desire, etc. We may not have all the answers, but we are willing to help one another while learning more about the field ourselves,” says Anne.

“It is always important to go above and beyond the standard of what a graduate school would be looking for in a student. Thankfully we are coming from UM, even though we are not coming in with the expected CSD major. Being a student here speaks to the quality of education that we are getting, and graduate schools have been very open to us because of that solid foundation,” Anne continues, “having a UM degree, especially having a UM Linguistics degree, is highly valued. Pre-speech & Hearing Club is just one more way for students to come together and become strong UM Linguistics representatives.”

Anna hopes to work in pediatrics, ideally in a hospital similar to C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, on children with traumatic brain injuries. Anne is interested in pediatric audiology. She would like to help children that have undergone post-cochlear implantation to learn how to read and write to the standards necessary to get them through school. She is also interested in sign language and intraoperative monitoring, which is where audiologists go into the operating room alongside surgeons and help lead surgeries off of EMG readings to protect the facial nerve. Both Anna and Anne are graduating this spring. Anna, co-president, will be attending Rush University Medical Center and will be pursuing her Master of Science in Speech Language Pathology; Anne, co-president, will be attending Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and will be pursuing her Doctorate in Audiology; and Natalie Marshall, peer advisor, will be attending Northwestern University for her Master of Science in Speech, Language and Learning.

Pre-Speech & Hearing Club meets twice a month; one meeting is about current research in the field and the other hosts a guest speaker. There are no fees, you just need to show up! However, exemplary attendance is a requirement if you are interested in a position on the board. If you have any questions, email PSHCumich@gmail.com. The 2016-2017 executive board members are Brooke Sheena – President, Alexa Korbakes – Vice President, Katie Cox – Peer Advisor, Lili De Leon – Treasurer, Natalie Hayes –Secretary, and Andrea Martin – Volunteer Coordinator.