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Master of Speech-Language Pathology

Krista Helling '09, '11 MSLP

Dubuque, Iowa

“St. Ambrose is incomparable when it comes to career support. The Career Center offers resume review, and we have career fairs for students in health sciences. I’ve networked and made connections with many speech-language professionals all over the state.”

How to succeed

"Be prepared to work hard. Be open to new ideas. Be ready to have a good time."

When Krista Helling took the Intro to Speech Pathology class as an undergraduate at Ambrose, she didn't have a deep background in the subject, but she knew the field could help her make an impact on people's lives. Now a graduate student in the MSLP program, Krista feels like she's found the perfect program for her—with classes she enjoys and is inspired by.

Krista hopes to work with elementary school children or in a hospital with patients who have had strokes or a brain injury. She says, "I've fallen in love with the information. And as a speech-language pathologist, I can help people improve their communication skills on an individual level."

In her own words

Which faculty member has made an impact?

Dr. Knox, who teaches Assessment and Multicultural Assessment, has so much knowledge. He's been in the field for so long, so everything he teaches is applicable to what we'll be doing on the job. The way he interacts with us makes it obvious that he wants us to succeed, and he'll do whatever he can to make that happen. That's what Ambrose is about.

One of his favorite things to say is, "Your first 120 assessments are going to be hard, but after that, it’ll be easy." He's joking, but what he means is: giving assessments is difficult, but with practice it will get easier. You'll make mistakes, but that’s okay, because that’s what you'll learn the most from. I'm grateful to work with so many dedicated faculty.

What’s your clinical like?

I work with preschool students and an adult. I teach language skills and work to increase their ability to speak in complete sentences and distinguish sounds. In the preschool setting, I often create themed sessions. For example, I helped them learn the language necessary to describe items found in the kitchen. I brought in item such as bowls, plates, cups, apples and pillows. The students took turns picking up an item, describing it in a sentence and telling whether it could be found in a kitchen.

There's a lot of one-on-one evaluation, and my professors give constructive criticism after my clinicals. They let us develop our session plans on our own so that we can find the path for ourselves. However, they are always there to provide support or assistance.

What’s the most valuable thing you've learned so far?

The importance of language. Preschoolers develop language at such a fast rate; you have to be aware of the language and prompts that you use, so they can develop appropriate language skills.

What is your research project?

I'm interested in how coursework helps graduate students feel confident in their clinical work and practice. I'll be surveying students taking a course on stuttering next semester. Students are often nervous and insecure about their knowledge of stuttering. Hopefully, the results will show that the course will increase their confidence.

We just presented our project ideas, and I'm working on the form to get the project approved by the university. I've never done research before, and Dr. Cremeens has given me the knowledge I've needed to begin the research process. She has given me the basics of research I've needed to confident on my own.

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