Alumni Update from Collyn George who is a graduate from 2019:
My name is Collyn George. I graduated from Arkansas State University with my undergraduate degree in 2017 and attended and graduated from Harding University with my master’s degree in 2019. I was in the Juliet cohort.
It has been a whirlwind of a year! Where to even begin!
After graduating in May of 2019, I began working at two local SNFs. I am from a rural area, therefore when you are hired the chances of you working in one facility are slim. Although I enjoyed the environment and working with the residents at the SNFs, I lacked a mentor that could push me to practice better in the geriatric population. I would love to one day step back into the SNF. There are many local SNFs in need of an SLP. I am skeptical about re-entering the SNF setting due to it being out of my comfort zone and the learning curve it would be. I feel comfortable evaluating and treating pediatrics. I have strong foundational knowledge in the adult population but lack the confidence to jump headfirst into a SNF or other adult facility.
I began my current job in August of 2019 for Billingsley Therapy Services, privately-owned business with speech therapists, occupational therapists, and physical therapists. I worked at Forrest City Junior and High School (evaluating and treating only Self-Contained classrooms) along with Lee County School District (assessing and treating the entire district). It was a very challenging first year! Many times, I thought I need to go back to school NOW! I felt that I needed to go back and read numerous research articles, make new therapy materials, make a new and better game plan of what I was going to do, and go back to class and ask a billion questions. I was frustrated with myself because I wanted to be better, practice at the top of my license, and be more knowledgeable but was in such a rut of just trying to make it through the days that I couldn’t find the time. As I reflect, I am thankful for the challenging SPED faculty at the schools who questioned every decision I made. It made me ask questions, look up answers, expand my professional peer group, and more. I realized I could do this. I am thankful for Harding for instilling in me to be better and do better. I had to learn to not be so hard on myself. I want to already know what I don’t know so that I can give my patients the best treatment.
COVID-19 was a challenge for everyone! Teletherapy was not as successful as I hoped. I live in the Delta, and, at times, it’s challenging to complete therapy face to face, so when teletherapy was put into place, the challenge became harder. Many of the families don’t have access to wi-fi, many don’t own computers, many didn’t understand the importance of continuing therapy, etc. There were and still are a lot of obstacles to jump. Out of approximately 60 students I serve, I had only 4-5 students who were consistent with teletherapy. Because of COVID-19, our jobs as SLPs only become that much more important. We need to go into the school year with a strong game plan of how we will get these students to achieve their goals and make up for the progress lost. I am currently working on creating a plan for the students that I serve. I feel that at some point, schools will be out and distance learning will be put back in place. I want to have things ready for a smooth, quick transition to teletherapy. It has been a struggle planning when not many schools have a plan. All we can do is our best and work hard to get our patients the therapy they need.
I would love to go back to Harding and sit in various lectures. I miss the wonderful, loving faculty. I miss studying (crazy! I know). I miss sitting in challenging yet engaging lectures. I miss being surrounded by people who pushed me to do better and practice at the top of my license. There have been many times over the past year that I have longed to go back and sit in a lecture and ask question after question. I asked myself numerous times, “Why didn’t I ask this when I had the chance?” I realized that you don’t have the questions until you are entirely out in the “real world” working. I didn’t know to ask the questions because the questions weren’t there for me to ask at the time. I miss being surrounded by people “in the know” of the new research and peers pushing me personally and professionally. I can’t say enough good things about Harding. I would go back in a heartbeat!
I love my profession! I am patiently waiting for God’s next move in my life. I can’t wait to see what he has in store for my career! I am expecting a little girl due early October. Maybe he’s waiting to spring something big on me until she gets here!
Know that challenging is good! If it’s not challenging you, you aren’t growing, learning, or expanding your knowledge and views. Harding faculty prepared me for what was to come, and I am forever grateful for that.”
Thank you for sharing, Collyn!