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Master of Speech-Language Pathology

Tom Bowman

Tom Bowman photo thumbnail

Moline, Illinois

"When I'm at the preschool for my clinical, I have to relate to the students. I can't worry about what people think if they see me crawling on the floor. I'm getting on their level to develop their language skills effectively."

How to succeed

"When you create lesson plans for preschool students, you learn to take a task and break it down into smaller, more palatable steps."

After Tom Bowman graduated from Augustana College with a degree in communication sciences and disorders, he held some different jobs that didn’t relate to his degree. Then he became a teachers' aid and did substitute teaching at a special education school where he saw the need for speech-language therapists. Now in the MSLP program, Tom already  is changing young lives doing speech therapy at a pre-school for his clinical.  

"When I started the program, I was in it for a more selfish reason—to get the degree and become successful. But now when I go to the preschool, the kids' eyes light up. They're excited to see me. I care about them, and I'm concerned with their well-being. I know I can help them develop. It's opened my eyes to what I can do with this degree."

In his own words

What are your classmates like?

A lot of my classmates are coming in fresh from graduation. There are others who have worked as teachers for a number of years. Some have families. We have elementary education degrees, psychology degrees. One woman, who speaks Spanish at home, wants to be a bilingual speech-language pathologist. We get great firsthand experience from her on working with bilingual clients. Everyone brings a different perspective and has something to add to class. We're all in this together.

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

Dr. Elisa Huff, my Motor Speech Disorders instructor, is teaching us that during therapy sessions we can't be afraid to look silly. One of the first steps to stuttering therapy is to become desensitized to stuttering. So during therapy with a client I had to stutter myself, and he had to notice if I was stuttering. It's awkward when you're not used to it, but we need to forget about ourselves.

Have you picked up any new skills?

In addition to interpersonal skills, my writing and general communication have greatly improved. My assessment class has taught me to express myself concisely in professional writing. This is a very important skill, since we'll be communicating case histories and progress to clients and their families. We've got to write up evaluations, administer tests and determine what kinds of therapy clients should receive. And we've got to be as clear as possible.

What is your research project about?

My topic is how sports-related head injuries affect speech and language. I played sports in high school and football in college, so I'm really interested to work on this. This semester is about doing the research and outline. Next spring we'll be writing the actual paper. 

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