Savannah Shanley

We sat down with Savannah Shanley - a student in UC's Speech-Language Pathology program. She shared her experience and gave some advice for future SLP students.

Savannah Shanley, 1st year Speech-Language Pathology student, stands in front of her poster presentation.

Savannah Shanley, 1st year Speech-Language Pathology student

What do you enjoy doing outside of class, schoolwork, or clinical?

I love to read! Reading is something that helps take all the stressors of school and life away for just a moment. My goal for 2023 is to try to read 50 books this year! I also love spending time with my fiancé, family, and friends.

Are you involved in any student organizations? 

I have been involved with numerous organizations during my undergraduate career such as NSSLHA (National Student Speech Language Hearing Association) and MC^2 (Multicultural Concerns in CSD). I am currently a part of the Voice and Swallow Mechanics Lab run by Dr. Victoria McKenna and have been a member since the Summer of 2021.

When did you know you wanted to be a speech- Language Pathologist?

Summer of 2021, I joined the Voice and Swallow Mechanics lab where I worked on a project with Dr. McKenna on gender-affirming voice therapy and was able to work alongside/ observe great SLPs and Otolaryngologists at the Gardner Neuroscience Institute where I saw the SLPs in action for voice and swallowing. From there, I was sold!

What types of hands-on experiences have you been able to gain in the program?

After my first year in the master’s program, I have gained a lot of experience with our on-campus clinic treating patients with aphasia, Parkinson’s Disease, and gender-affirming voice therapy. This summer I am at Head Start working with children and the Gardner Neuroscience Institute where I have been able to have wonderful hands-on experience.

For my capstone project for my final year in undergrad, I worked with Dr. Amy Hobek alongside students Victoria Romano and Cailynn Beck where we put on an event highlighting aspects of gender-affirming care called “Transforming Healthcare.” With being in Dr. McKenna’s lab, I have been able to work on research, run subjects, I have presented at conferences and much more!

How have opportunities in this program shaped your career goals or view of the profession?

I fell in love with voice and swallowing disorders because of the experiences I've had in this program. I hope to work one day in an acute care setting or outpatient with head and neck cancer patients.

What impact do you hope to have in the lives of your patients or in your field?

Any opportunities I can provide to help improve the quality of life of others and their families is something I look forward to.

Anything else you would say to a prospective student who is trying to find the right program for them?

Back in the fall of 2017, I was so sure I was going to complete my degree in biology. After that first year and after some personal experiences, I realized it was not for me. This was a scary step to take. After that first year, I had a pretty low GPA and thought my chances of getting into a graduate program were pretty low. The faculty here helped me overcome obstacles and provided opportunities to help me be an overall competitive applicant. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I recommend getting involved in your program however you can. Joining the VSM lab has helped me in my program and ensured my love for speech-language pathology. Regardless of where you are in your academic journey, it is okay to change your mind. I was so worried that others would think negatively about me changing my major. There is no wrong way of finding your way and your passions relating to your career.