Spotlight on Natural Sciences Alumni: Julia Watson
Occupation: Speech Pathologist
Education (UR and additional): BA in BCS at the University of Rochester 2006; MS in Speech & Hearing Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 2008
Current city/state/country of residence: Medford, Massachusetts
What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?
I was a member of Kappa Delta Sorority which was the beginning of many strong friendships that have continued well beyond my time at the UofR. That experience also served as an opportunity to further develop my leadership, organization, and communication skills in a large group setting. I also volunteered with a vocational program for young adults with physical, emotional, and learning disabilities. There was a Speech Pathologist on staff, which allowed me one of my first opportunities to observe and work with someone from the area I was interested to pursue.
What did you do immediately after graduation? How did you decide to take this path?
Immediately after graduation I attended graduate school to pursue my degree in Speech Pathology. I knew I needed to obtain the degree in order to work in this area, however I don’t think I truly realized the full breadth of the profession until I began the program.
What do you do now and why did you choose this career?
I am a Speech & Language Pathologist for a rehabilitation network in and around the Boston area. I work primarily with adults in medical settings (acute care; acute rehab; long-term acute care; skilled nursing facilities). In my role, I evaluate and treat disorders of swallowing, speech, language, and cognitive-communication. The population I work with includes individuals with a large variety of medical diagnoses, including stroke, traumatic brain injury, neurodegenerative conditions, as well as patients with tracheostomy/ventilator needs. I would say I fell into this career path through a series of opportunities. I completed a language development track within the BCS major at the UofR, which led me to some research opportunities in the areas of language and Autism. I also had a close, personal connection during college when a family member developed Aphasia, a language disorder. I applied to grad school to pursue a speech pathology degree to continue working with children with Autism, but ended up having a strong interest in and enjoyment of the adult medical field of speech pathology.
Where would you like to be in five years?
I would like to be pursuing a role in which I can provide greater leadership, training, and education to other clinicians, while also continuing and expanding my own clinical practice in the area of medical Speech Pathology.
What advice do you have for current students?
I would encourage current students to expose themselves to a broad array of coursework and professional observations and to remain open-minded at all times.