Meet Our Graduate Students - Rachel Castillo - Finding Purpose as an SLP
Student Profiles: Rachel Castillo
Major: Speech-Language Pathology (SLP)
Are you a first-generation college student?
Yes, I am the first to graduate from college.
Why did you pick UTEP?
I choose UTEP's SLP program because of the experience it offers students, such as simulated hospital scenarios, where students from other disciplines collaborate (nurses, occupational and physical therapists), as well as UTEP's high regard for cultural competencies, where the cultural needs of the client and their spoken language spoken are valued.
What sparked your interest in speech-language pathology? What is special about this kind of work?
My interest in the SLP field was influenced by my son's stuttering disorder when he was 4 years old. The desire to work with individuals with disabilities was apparent to me at a young age. As a school-aged child, individuals with disabilities (Down's syndrome, intellectually disabled, etc.) had always captured my interest. I found myself volunteering during the Special Olympics and assisting in any way I could, into my teens. However, it wasn't until I witnessed speech therapy with my son that MY PURPOSE was confirmed; I'd found the direction I wanted to go toward.
Having the option to work in an array of settings and/or populations is what makes this field special. SLPs service patients as young as newborns for feeding/sucking/swallowing in a hospital or in a home health setting. They also work with school-aged children with speech impairments (due to phonological disorders, apraxia of speech, stuttering, etc.) in school settings, private clinics, or in a home health setting. Additionally, SLPs work with geriatric patients with cognitive and/or swallowing deficits in settings that include SNFs (skilled nursing facilities), rehabilitation centers, or hospitals for cognitive.
Please describe your most meaningful experience professionally and personally during your time in the SLP program.
My most meaningful experience professionally during my time in the SLP program has been servicing my community. It was through my internship experience in both the academic and hospital settings that I realized how much my students/patients required an advocate. Under the direction of my school supervisor, we called CPS to investigate a situation with a student who may have been in danger. Under the direction of my SNIF supervisor, we advocated for a patient whose health had been overlooked to be sent to the hospital.
What strategies do you use to balance your home and work/school life?
Some strategies I use to balance my home and work/school life are:
- Remembering to take time for myself.
- One thing I do for myself daily is to take a hot 20-minute bath, where I soak in my tub with Epson salt right before bed.
- Sleep 6-8 hour a night (no ifs, ands, or buts).
- Keeping a schedule.
- Limiting time on social media. Set a goal for times that are best for you and stick to it.
- Keeping your calendar current. I check this weekly just to remind myself if I needed to either start a project or get ahead.
- Prioritizing where/when your time will be most productive.
What are your career aspirations?
I foresee myself working with children who present with reading/writing difficulties, specifically, dyslexia and dysgraphia. These literacy deficits are concentrations I would love to specialize in. I am required to intern for nine months after graduation. I am currently applying here in our community in school and private clinical settings.
What advice would you give to a student thinking about studying speech-language pathology?
The advice I would give a student thinking about studying speech-language pathology is that the program is competitive, so be mindful of your grades. If you love helping those in need, have a love for mankind, and get pleasure when you see an individual benefit from your therapy, then this is the job for you. Don’t worry about feeling like you do not fit in with a certain population or setting, because you can try another. You will never be bored doing what you love!