Bachelor’s degree in speech-language pathology
Master’s degrees in speech-language pathology
Vanessa Cabrera is a speech pathologist in Montgomery County Public Schools in the Washington, D.C., metro area. Cabrera is originally from Puerto Rico, but moved to Maryland to obtain a bachelor’s degree in hearing and speech sciences at the University of Maryland-College Park. She remained at the university to earn a master’s degree in speech and language pathology. Aside from working in D.C.-area public schools, Cabrera has worked in private practice. She plans to continue working with children, especially children in the bilingual population, by helping them improve their communication skills.
What education is entailed in becoming a speech-language pathologist?
To practice speech-language pathology and to be able to diagnose and prepare a treatment plan, you have to have a master’s degree in speech pathology. With an undergraduate degree in hearing and speech sciences, you can only be a therapist (work with the client), but not diagnose or prepare the treatment plan. With a Ph.D., you can also teach and do research.
Why did you decide to pursue a major in speech-language pathology in college?
I loved the idea of helping people and working with people directly. I believe communication is so important to have better quality of life, and helping people improve their communication seemed like such an important job!
I noticed you have both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in speech-language pathology. How did the master’s program build on what you learned in the bachelor’s program?
The bachelor’s degree gives you an idea of how to be a therapist, but with the master’s, you learn specifically how and why you should work on different areas of communication. It’s more detailed.
What did you like best and worst about majoring in speech-language pathology?
I liked best how diverse your work can be and how many different areas you could choose to work at. I don’t think I didn’t like anything while I was majoring in speech-language pathology.
Do you still use the skills and knowledge you obtained in your speech-language pathology major in your current line of work? How so?
Of course! Although, I have to say, you learn a lot more as you start working with clients. What you learn in school is the theory and you also practice a little of what you learn, but there’s nothing like years of experience.
Do you have any words of advice to students who are considering majoring in speech-language pathology in college?
If you like working with people, if you like talking, and if you like being creative, you are going to love this career! Enjoy it, have fun with it! And if you have other talents, like playing instruments, if you are bilingual, sing, dance, do yoga, or anything else, it will definitely help you in your career.