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Emma Boat

SHS grad student Emma Boat talks about her program, campus and COVID

Students are attending college in a unique environment, and that includes students in the College of Applied Health Sciences at the University of Illinois. The AHS communications staff spoke with AHS seniors about online classes, truncated courses and how COVID-19 changed their expectations. Today, we speak with Emma Boat, who is graduating in May with a Master of Arts in Speech-Language Pathology.

Q: Why did you pick SHS?

A: I chose Speech and Hearing Sciences because I love to use communication to connect with people. I want to help people who struggle to communicate to build their speech and language skills so they too can make connections and express their wants and needs.

Q: Which professors had the most impact on you?

A: Every single one of the SHS professors made an impact on me. I feel like I've learned from some of the most knowledgeable, passionate people in the field and I'm so grateful for every class. Jennifer Dahman has made a huge impact on me. She has so much passion and love for the field, and she finds a way to make even the driest topics meaningful. If I ever had a day when I was feeling uninspired, a class or client with Jen would always remind me of why I chose speech pathology.

Q: What course did you most enjoy?

A: My favorite course was probably Cognitive Communication Disorders, taught by Dr. Raksha Mudar. The topics were interesting, the class was discussion-based and engaging, and Dr. Mudar is so intelligent and shared so much valuable knowledge and insight with us.

Q: Did you enter SHS knowing your career path, or did SHS help you decide?

A: I came into SHS knowing I want to be a Speech-Language Pathologist, but my experiences in SHS, both within the classroom and in different clinical settings, exposed me to the diverse settings and roles within the field. All these experiences helped me learn what I'm most passionate about and where I want to take my career.

Q: What do you hope to do after you graduate?

A: I hope to work with kids in a private practice or school setting in Chicago.

Q: What was your favorite on-campus experience?

A: Right before COVID, my roommate and I went to a basketball game against Maryland. It was such a blast feeling the energy and cheering on the Illini, and it really made us feel like a part of the university!

Q: What do you miss most because of the pandemic?

A: The thing I miss most is being in class with my cohort. We are a small cohort of about 30 students, so we all became really close before the pandemic. We all would've loved to have one more class together in-person before graduation, but I'm thankful for the time we had before the pandemic.

Q: What are the biggest changes on campus, pre and post-COVID?

A: Before COVID, campus was always lively and energetic. People were always out and the energy was so fun. Immediately after COVID, campus lost that energy and became more isolated. Slowly but surely, campus has returned to its pre-COVID state.

Q: What would you say to recommend SHS to a prospective student?

A: When I entered the SHS department, I was coming from a different school and didn't know anyone in the department. I immediately felt welcomed by the faculty and my new classmates. After just a few weeks, I felt comfortable and supported. In SHS, we all have different interests and goals, but with a shared love of speech and language. It's a community of kind, open-minded, passionate people, so it's been a special experience. I would highly recommend SHS to anyone who's open-minded, ready to work hard and learn, and is interested in the field.

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