Joy and Service in Zambia- Ashley Whaley

Ashley Whaley shares about her Zambia Experience this past summer:

“In Zambia, our group saw many acts of good. I would like to share about one that touched me. Kaulyn Loe and I were throwing around a disc and I got it stuck on top of a storage unit (there was a breeze, ok?). Kaulyn and I then went to ask one of the cooks, Ba Andrew, who we estimated 45 years old, for help in getting it down. He said yes and went to go look for the ladder. He came back and said that someone was borrowing the ladder but that he would find something else to climb on. He comes back out with a wooden rake and a rusted metal shelf and carries it to the storage unit by himself. He begins to climb up on it while I stabilize it so it doesn’t tip over. His rake wasn’t long enough to reach it once he was standing on it, so he came down. I immediately felt a relief when his feet were on the ground. I could’t help but think how I would never let my dad climb on something so rusted and risky, and this cook that had become our friend over the past few weeks had put himself in danger for me out of the goodness of his heart. Right at that moment we see Richard riding back on his bike. We had just met him about 20 minutes before when he asked us what we called what we were throwing and talked for a little bit. He had told us that he played on the Young Pirates, the football (soccer) team and that he was playing tomorrow and invited us to come. As he rode by I told him that our disc was stuck on the roof and he said “I can help. But will you also help me and hold my bike?” I said yes! And asked him if he was sure he wanted  to do that since he had his big game tomorrow. He said yes and I told him to be careful. I had no idea how he was going to get it. Ba Andrew stabilized the rusted metal shelf and Richard climbs on top and proceeds to full body shoulder lift himself to the top of the storage unit. He gets the disc and then seems unsure of what to do with it. He smiles awkwardly and looks at the disc with uncertainty before he throws it down to us on the ground. He comes back to his bike and we thank him and he asks us if we have “Whats- app”(texting) we say no, but that we do have Facebook. I run back to the Man House (where we slept) and grabbed a paper and pen so that we can exchange names. The next day at the game he waves at us when he is in the warm up circle! It was so fun to cheer for someone we knew on the team. We came to find out in the following weeks that Richard’s dad had passed away the day before he helped us and that he was riding his bike to clear his head. 

Joy and service were highly noted to me in Zambia culture. Ba Andrew risked his safety while climbing up on that rusty shelf, all with joy and service to these two girls he had gotten to know the last few weeks. When Richard helped us, you could never tell that anything was pulling at his heart, yet he was deeply mourning. He showed joy and service to these girls that he had just met, not for anything in return, but just because he saw a need and decided to fill it. Something that showed through in the Zambian culture was how they treated people in the small acts, and that has continued to make an impact on me.

Ashley Whaley”

Thank you for sharing, Ashley!

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Highlights of Zambia- Audrey Vesperman

Audrey Vesperman shares about her Zambia Experience this past summer:

“Over the summer, I had the blessing and opportunity to travel to Zambia for my first offsite placement. The trip looked different than it has in the past because of COVID, but we still made the most of it and had lots of fun. There are so many things I could say about my time in Zambia, but so you aren’t stuck reading this all day, I will try and hit the highlights.

Throughout our six weeks, we went on a few extra trips to experience Zambia outside of the Namwianga mission. We were able to go on safari, ride elephants, pet cheetahs, walk with lions, visit Victoria Falls, interact with locals at the market, and so much more that allowed us to see the beauty of the land and the people in a fuller way. One Sunday, we visited and worshipped with a local church, Kasibi church of Christ. After the service, the church and the local village gathered for a meal, and we distributed mealy meal to the entire village. The joy of the village that day brought tears to my eyes.

In Namwianga, we were able to serve individuals at the local physio clinic through the hospital as well as children who live at the Haven. By American standards, this hospital would be outdated, understaffed, and under resourced. However, in the Namwianga area, the hospital is the best around. We were able to gain a greater understanding of the ways Zambian healthcare professionals are taking what they have and serving their communities in the best way they can.

The Haven, a transitional facility that aims to reunite children with their families, is staffed by several aunties who care for the children. This is where we spent most of our time and conducted most of our therapy during the trip. The Haven provides a home for children who either do not have a family, or their families cannot adequately care for them. When we were there, they only had 23 children, which is a major decrease from the last trip in 2019, where they had over 60 children. Each day we would walk the 30 minutes down the road to the Haven to build relationships and provide treatment. Each day looked both similar and different – we had a schedule we went by, but some days the aunties were showing us how to make nshima or teaching us songs in Tonga, and the schedule went out the window. We provided lots of language stimulation through song, gestures, storytelling, and play. We were taught how to perform infant massage and Beckmann stretches, which we incorporated into feeding treatment. We worked with babies to find ways to ease their frequent spit-ups, improve latches and lip closure as well as secretion management, increase oral stimulation, and encourage tongue-jaw disassociation. While I learned lots of clinical skills that I will carry with me throughout my career, the babies reminded me of something that will make me a better individual. I was reminded of the power of a person to grow and develop. I gave my client the tools she needed to create speech, and she took that and my modeling and shaping and ran with it. She did so much more than I could – watching her grow and develop before my eyes was incredible, encouraging, and such a gift. Her progress makes me excited to watch my future clients grow and thrive.

The Zambian people and culture are so beautiful, relational, and strong. They have so little, and yet their love for God, who is their strength and portion, is beyond anything I have seen. They reminded me of the gift it is to worship God, our Savior, Protector, and Provider. My kids showed me the power of growth and how just a little nudge from someone can spark incredible progress in development. The people showed me that great strength and joy can be found even coming from the darkest of circumstances. My worldview has been changed by this work, and I can only pray that you are able to experience something similar, whether overseas or right in your backyard.

Audrey Vesperman”

Thank you for sharing, Audrey!

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Harding Graduate School Questions and Answers

Current graduate students in the Mike cohort answered some questions future students may have about what graduate school is like at Harding:

Why did you choose this program?

I chose this program because coming from Harding in undergrad, I knew that the graduate program was well-put together and provided lots of wonderful opportunities to grow as a clinician that other programs don’t have (HIZ-Path, IPE events, open-door policies w/ staff, etc.).

What classes do you take?

At Harding you take a wide variety of classes that cover different topics within speech-language pathology. They are also organized through the life span (birth-geriatrics) with clinical practicums each semester.

  • First semester classes consist of Birth to 5, Neuro Anatomy and Physiology, Research and Writing, Counseling, and Clinical Practicum I at Harding
  • Second Semester classes consist of Dysphagia, Pediatric Feeding, School-Age Disorders, and Clinical Practicum II at Harding
  • Third semester (summer) classes consist of Clinical Practicum III, Alternative Modes of Communication, Special Populations, Multicultural, and Medical Aspects of Speech-Language Pathology (an elective course)
  • Fourth semester classes consist of Special Topics, Fluency Disorders, Neurogenics, and Clinical Practicum IV
  • Fifth semester classes consist of Professional Issues and Business Practices, Adolescent, Ethics, and Clinical Practicum V

What does a day in the life of a first year grad student look like?

It depends on the day and your clinic schedule, but usually you’re busy with clinic and classes from 8-4 and then you do homework in the evenings. There are a few outside-of-class events such as certifications, competencies, IPE events, etc. that may be on the weekends or in the evenings. It’s good to be flexible with your schedule that first semester.

What are some externship placements that I can participate in? 

Pretty much any place you can think of – Mr. Chance does a great job of coordinating offsite placements for everyone!

  • ZAMBIA (HIZ-Path)
  • Arkansas Children’s hospital, TimerRidge, Schools, Pediatric Plus
  • Skilled Nursing Facilities 
  • Hippotherapy
  • Hospital Outpatient Clinics 

What is clinic like at the HUSC?

The first two semesters of clinical practicum are completed on-site at the Harding University Speech Clinic. Most first year graduate students have 2-3 clients per semester and can be seen in-person or tele-therapy. When working in the clinic it has a laid back atmosphere, most people are willing to share ideas/thoughts when you need help, and the supervisors are always there to support you.

What are some social events in the program/cohorts?

This past year was difficult to host events due to COVID and social distancing. However, we were able to get together with the second years (Lima Cohort) at the start of the school year for a mixer and meet our second year mentors. The mike cohort also hosted a dip night and powerpoint night later in the semester to attend. We hope to have more programs, events, and get togethers this coming year!

What are some ways I can best prepare for my first year of grad school?

Here are some first year tips:

  • KNOW your cranial nerves. Learn them now. Life will be easier later. You’re Welcome. 
  • Start off the semester with a good routine that is balanced. You have to let yourself take breaks every week so starting off the semester that way will help you be less stressed. 
  • When you are tired (I am talking about that “hitting a brick wall” feeling), GO TO BED. You will not take in anymore information and exhaust yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally. Get a good sleep schedule and stick with it. You really can get 7 hours a night and your brain will thank you! 

What has been your favorite part about grad school at Harding?

  • The people! Everyone here is so kind and I know that I have definitely made life-long friends here

Thank you Mike cohort for sharing your first year graduate school experiences and advice!

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Clinical Practicum Experience- Kids Unlimited Learning Academy (KULA)

Lacey Roberts shares about her Summer 2020 externship experience:

“This summer, I had a fabulous experience at Kids Unlimited Learning Academy (KULA) in Searcy. My supervisor, Haylynn Moore, was incredibly knowledgeable and I learned an extraordinary amount from her about therapy and professionalism. KULA is classified as an early intervention day treatment facility. At first glance, KULA looks a lot like other preschools. However, the children who attend all qualify for developmental day treatment services in the classroom and therapy services in one or more of the following areas: ST, PT, and OT. My supervisor’s caseload consisted of about 25 children ages 9 months to 6 years. The majority of my day was spent treating children during their day at school. However, I did see new children coming in for evaluations and a few outpatient children in addition to the kids who attend the school. I started each day at 6:45 a.m. and saw kiddos consecutively until about 4:00 p.m. other than a 30-minute lunch. My days were incredibly busy but seeing each one of the kids grow both in language ability and overall skills made me excited to go every day. One of the most significant ways that my experience in the graduate program at Harding prepared me for KULA was the program’s emphasis on teamwork. Each one of my courses at Harding has highlighted the importance of multidisciplinary efforts in order to treat the whole client. Events like Nights at the Roundtable and the reflex lab helped me to better understand how to communicate and work with professionals from other disciplines effectively. Each day at KULA, I worked with classroom teachers. It was so valuable to be able to gather their input about a child because the clients I treated spent the majority of the day with the teacher. I also had awesome opportunities to observe PT and OT sessions and to discuss a client’s progress with those professions. I am so grateful that I had the chance to work at KULA this summer! Each day was an amazing chance to apply the skills I learned in the classroom and to gain practical experience working with the sweetest kids!”

Thank you for sharing, Lacey!

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Clinical Practicum Highlight- St. Bernard’s Medical Center

Dallas Johnson shares about her Summer 2020 externship experience:

“For my offsite placement, I was at St. Bernard’s Medical Center. My caseload consisted of adults over the age of 50 with a few who were younger. Most of my patients had a history of CVA, TIA, TBI, pneumonia, cancer, respiratory failure, and heart failure. Each patient that I saw either had difficulties swallowing, cognitive decline, and expressive and receptive language. A typical day at my placement would be to come in and chart review, perform VFSS in X-Ray in the morning, do bedside swallow evaluations or diet tolerance evaluations, perform swallowing therapy, and assess speech & language/provide treatment. Each day we received new patients with different diagnoses and admission reasons allowing me the chance to see a wide variety of clinical scenarios. I had many patients go to hospice which showed me how real and raw that this job can be. We are taught in our classes how important and special it is to share a meal with our loved ones and eat to be fulfilled. When patients are in that portion of their life, eating for pleasure is sometimes the choice when they are heading to hospice. On the other hand, there were many patients who recovered their speech, language, and swallowing abilities all with a little therapy. It was really rewarding to get to see these patients be able to get their life back. My supervisor was wonderful. He allowed us to learn the role of being a hospital SLP in a stress-free environment and taught us to take our mistakes as lesson to be a better clinician in the future. Taking neuro and dysphagia my first year really prepared me for this experience. Though those classes were hard, and I didn’t believe that I could survive them, they allowed me to make clinical decisions like I had been doing it my whole life. I will really miss going to St Bernard’s every day, but I am happy for the connections I made while I was there.”

Thank you for sharing, Dallas!

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Clinical Practicum Highlight- Southeast Rehab Hospital

Kaitlin Hill shares about her Summer 2020 externship experience:

“I was placed at Southeast Rehab Hospital in Lake Village, AR for my first graduate clinical rotation experience. My caseload mainly consisted of patients that were post CVA. However, I did have a few patients that had Parkinson’s and Dementia as well. With my patients, I was able to get lots of experience in feeding/swallowing evaluations, expressive/receptive language evaluations, and cognitive evaluations. Majority of my caseload required cognitive therapy. A typical day for me at Southeast Rehab was filled with various types of brain activities (i.e., word finding, sequencing, medication/money management, etc.) with each patient. I had a few patients that required feeding/swallowing therapy and daily oral motor exercises on top of cognitive therapy. Having learned so much in Dr. Meeker’s neuroscience and dysphagia classes helped me tremendously during this clinical rotation.”

Thank you for sharing, Kaitlin!

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Clinical Practicum Highlight- Dallas Reading and Language Services

Danielle Hennessy shares about her Summer 2020 externship experience:

“This summer I had the opportunity to work at Dallas Reading and Language Services. It is a private practice that treats individuals in the pediatric population. There are some younger kids working mostly on language development, but I have been mostly working with older kids. One thing I love about this placement is that we target almost all goals through reading, which helps kids with their speech/language goals, but also helps them academically. We work on literacy while also targeting speech sounds, summarizing, answering questions, phonological awareness, etc.. During my time here, I have had the opportunity to work with quite a few clients who have dyslexia. My supervisor specializes in services for dyslexia, so it has been great learning strategies from her! I have been utilizing the Linda-Mood Bell vowel chart alongside sound sequencing to help with phonological awareness, decoding skills, and spelling. I felt that my coursework in the school-age class really helped prepare me for this setting in so many ways. We learned so much about expressive/receptive language and even some about dyslexia, which is the majority of what I see on my caseload. Typically I see 8-10 clients in a day, with the evenings definitely being busier. Because of COVID, I would say that about half of my caseload is teletherapy, but the number of clients coming back to the office has been steadily increasing. I have truly enjoyed my time here this summer, and although I was bummed to not be going to Zambia, I’m so glad I was able to have this experience.”

Thank you for sharing, Danielle!

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Clinical Practicum Highlight- Reaper’s Physical Therapy

Lacee Fitzgerald shares about her summer 2020 externship experience:

“This summer, I was placed at Reaper’s Physical Therapy in Searcy, AR. This is an outpatient facility that sees clients across the full spectrum of ages and disorders. Over the course of the summer, I mostly saw children with articulation and language difficulties with a few adults interspersed throughout. It was very interesting to work in a setting that saw children and adults, and I loved the chance to build my interprofessional collaboration with the physical therapists and occupational therapists onsite. I saw a wide range of clients, and a typical week consisted of me working with one of my supervisors on Monday and Wednesday and my other supervisor on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. I generally saw between 6-8 clients per day, each session lasting between 30 minutes to an hour. There were times when we would have clients back-to-back and other times have breaks in between. On Tuesday and Thursday, my supervisor and I would regularly travel between the clinic and daycares to see clients. Sometimes, evaluations were scheduled between clients. On average, I would start at 8:00 and end at 5:00. I felt blessed in my experiences at Reaper’s Physical Therapy and I know that my last year at Harding helped prepare me for the clients that I would see at my offsite. My previous classes have prepared me with the knowledge that I need to become a competent SLP, and this summer, I was able to apply much of that knowledge, such as from my AAC, dysphagia, school-age, and special populations class, when working with clients. I had many clients I absolutely adored, and I am sad that I am leaving them. It has truly been an eye-opening experience for my first offsite and I cannot wait for the other experiences I may have in the future!”

Thank you for sharing, Lacee!

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Clinical Practicum Highlight- St. Vincent’s Neuroscience Institute

Mary Hannah Bryant shares about her summer 2020 externship experience:

“This summer, I completed a clinical rotation at St. Vincent’s Neuroscience Institute in Sherwood, Ar. This experience has allowed me to see many patients that range from young to older adults. The majority of the caseload at St. Vincent North is strokes, brain tumors, and brain injuries, and I treated patients for swallowing, communication, and cognitive disorders. Each day began by seeing the new orders for swallowing or cognitive evaluations and completing a chart review of new patients. Once all charts were reviewed, my supervisor and I began by completing swallowing evaluations first and then cognitive evaluations. The number of new evaluations is different every day, so no two days were the same. We documented between every 2-3 patients to ensure that we were never overwhelmed by documenting. Some days, my supervisor and I completed evaluations all day, but if we were able to complete all the evaluations before the day was over, we provided treatment to patients evaluated on previous days. Therapy in the hospital was very different than any therapy I had provided prior to this experience. Therapy always took place in the patient’s room, and I was forced to think outside the box because I was not able to take a ton of therapy items along with me. I was always on my toes thinking, “what can I use in this room during therapy?” Administering evaluations and providing therapy in the hospital setting has definitely stretched me as a clinician and allowed me to see another awesome and fun area of speech language pathology. At St. Vincent North, the speech language pathologist also provided inpatient and outpatient OPVs. This part of the hospital caseload was the most intimidating for me because the patient and radiologist are looking at the SLP to see what the next decision will be. OPVs forced me to use book knowledge and clinical judgement simultaneously. More times than I can count, I found myself thinking “I see ____ because of ___.” My knowledge from Neuroscience and Dysphagia were definitely put to good use during this clinical rotation. I am thankful for Dr. Meeker and her high expectations for her students because these two courses allowed me to feel prepared and confident in my own clinical knowledge. St. Vincent North has been an incredibly positive clinical experience for me, and it seemed like something happened every day where I stopped and thought, ‘that is why I chose to pursue a degree in speech-language pathology.'”

Thank you for sharing, Mary!

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Clinical Practicum Highlight- Children’s Therapy Team

Olivia Barclay shares about one of her externship experiences:

“Hi, my name is Olivia and I spent my externship at Children’s Therapy Team in Fayetteville, Arkansas. I spent approximately 20 hours a week with a caseload that consisted of children with dyslexia, executive functioning, AAC, Articulation, Pragmatics. My typical day began at 7:30 am where I would prep for upcoming sessions by gathering masteries and briefing with my supervisor. Throughout the day I would work with children on their individual needs. Upon completion of my work day, I would spend my evenings arranging activates and setting future goals for clients. This involves creating materials, data sheets, and other plans for the following day. Clinical Practicum at HU truly prepared my experiences at CTT by exposing me to assessments and early childhood clients. The extensive knowledge from this course helped me compare developmental norms with confidence. It has increased my speed and accuracy in writing evaluation reports and be more creative in general.”

Thank you for sharing, Olivia!

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