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MGH Institute student shares her path to helping others

8/6/2008, 5:10 a.m.
Working in a school system, Alissa Elwin encountered intelligent students who had trouble expressing themselves. Seeking to help kids improve their language skills, Elwin chose to study communication sciences and disorders at MGH Institute of Health Professions, and is looking to get involved in augmentative communication. MGH Institute of Health Professions

Alissa Elwin is studying communication sciences and disorders  (CSD) at the MGH Institute of Health Professions. She recently took some time to discuss her background, how she chose her field of study, and what ultimately drew her to study at the MGH Institute.

Where were you born and raised?

Atlanta, Ga.

Where did you go to school?

Emory University.

What was your major in college?

English and creative writing.

What made you want to pursue a career in communication sciences and disorders?

I have always had a strong interest in languages, both written and spoken, as well as a desire to teach. Having had experience working in a school system, I came to realize that language development was an area that needed more attention. I noticed that students who were very intelligent were having difficulties in reading and in expression — difficulties that kept them from reaching their academic goals.

After speaking with my school’s special education coordinator, I became interested in the difference that a speech language pathologist could make with those students. Choosing to become a speech language pathologist seemed like a natural progression for me.

How did you find the MGH Institute, and why did you apply here?

Choosing a graduate program can be pretty overwhelming. At the time, I lived in a very rural area and knew that I wanted to live in an urban environment. I chose Boston first, and then I looked for schools in the area. Using the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) Web site, I was able to find and compare ASHA-approved programs.

I chose the MGH Institute because I liked the idea of being exposed to the many different specialties within speech language pathology. Being able to start my clinical work early in the program was also a draw.

When do you graduate?

2009.

What would you like to do when you graduate?

Currently, I am interested in augmentative communication and working with clients with acquired language disorders.

What would you like to tell people who are thinking of pursuing an education in communication sciences and disorders?

1. Be prepared to work! The MCH Institute’s program is intense, but you begin applying what you learn immediately. You can pursue this degree without undergraduate experience in CSD, although it will require a little extra work.

2. You are choosing a career that is growing and changing and extremely varied.

3. You get to be a part of a positive change in someone else’s life. What an amazing gift to offer!

The master’s degree in speech language pathology at the MGH Institute is ranked in the top 10 percent of programs in the country by U.S. News and World Report. The MGH Institute, founded in 1977 by Massachusetts General Hospital, has more than 850 students and is located in historic Charlestown Navy Yard. With an existing bachelor’s degree, you can also become a registered nurse in as little as 14 months, as well as a physical therapist, licensed reading specialist, or radiologic technologist.

For more information, visit www.mghihp.edu.