Skip to content

Speechie Spotlight: Darby

February 9, 2018


Darby Hometown: Marwayne, Alberta (10 points if you’ve heard of it!)
Undergrad Degrees: Bachelor of Education (Elementary)
Interests & Hobbies: I am a sports fanatic – growing up in a small community I was able to be a part of a number of different sports teams. From the basketball court, to the dance studio, to the ball diamond, to the skating rink, if there was a team, I was on it! I also LOVE all things camping; fishing, surfing, making s’mores, and everything in between!
Favourite thing about Edmonton: it’s the closest university city to my hometown! I am very much a rural Alberta gal and I am happy that home is only a two and half hour drive out of the city – especially when grad school gets stressful and I need to escape to my country roots. It’s also home to the largest mall in North America, oh and the Oilers (Go McDavid Go!).
Why did you decide to go into SLP? After realizing early on in my post-secondary career that pharmacy wasn’t going to be the best fit for me, I started to look into careers that involved working with kids (something I knew I loved to do). I talked to some of my teacher relatives and they had mentioned that an SLP visited their school regularly. After sitting in on a session where the SLP was in my grandmother’s classroom, I became very interested in this field. I did more research into the scope of practice of an SLP over Christmas break 2013, and in 2014 I enrolled in a bachelor of education, with my sights set on a masters in SLP (while not the most captivating story, it was the best decision ever!!).
Previous research or volunteer experience? I was fortunate enough to get onto two research projects during my undergrad – one through the Roger S. Smith Undergraduate Research Award program (if you are an Education student at the U of A, I strongly urge you to check it out), and one as a volunteer RA for one of my education professors. While the projects weren’t necessarily targeted towards communication sciences and disorders, they did give me very valuable experience, and I encourage future applicants to seek out research opportunities prior to applying to the program (while I know it is not a requirement, it is one more thing to set you apart from other applicants). In terms of volunteer experience, I spent many summers shadowing my local SLP and OT and was involved with many youth athletic teams. Having volunteer experience both in my future field and with kiddos in general has been an asset to me in this program so far.
How did you find out you were accepted into the program? I was in my Interactions classroom for one of my extra placements for my Ed degree and I was checking my email while the kiddos were having a snack. As soon as I read “congratulations” I started to cry and my mentor teacher and her EAs all started to hug and congratulate me – the one even cried a little with me ha! The kiddos were very confused at all the crying and excitement. From there I phoned all of my family and friends and shared the exciting news – And yes, each phone call ended with more happy tears. One of my favourite days to date!
Hardest part of the program so far? For me, the hardest part has been remembering that the focus of my studies is not on grades anymore, but rather becoming a better clinician. This is a tough transition from undergrad and is something I am still working on as I make my way through this program.
Favourite part of the program so far? Definitely the people – the professors, department staff and of course, my lovely classmates have made this program everything I could have hoped for. It’s so refreshing to spend your day with a group of very like-minded people; something I didn’t experience as much in my undergrad. It’s also pretty awesome to spend your days learning about stuff you are really passionate about; makes the days fly by!
What do you wish you had known before entering the program? Well cadaver labs came as a bit of a surprise – might have been my own fault that I didn’t realize we had these labs, but regardless I could have used the summer to get mentally prepared from them! Rest assured though, they aren’t as bad as they sound and you will get through them (if I can, you can). I also wish I would have known how accommodating and encouraging the faculty and professors are; I would have been way less nervous to start if I would have known that. Seriously guys, they are AMAZING.
One cool SLP related blog/article/website we should all check out: Well I may be a little biased because I am one of the SAC reps for my class, but the Speech Language and Audiology Canada (SAC) website has so much info about the scope of practice for SLPs and many other neat little tid-bits about the profession and the SAC itself! Definitely check it out:



Speechie Spotlight: Meagan

January 19, 2018


                                                                          Meagan H.
20170126_131159 Hometown: Prince Albert, Saskatchewan
Undergrad Degrees: BA Honours Linguistics with a Minor in Archaeology
Interests & Hobbies: Travelling, yoga, and food
Favourite thing about Edmonton: Old Strathcona Farmer’s market, or brunch at Sugarbowl
Why did you decide to go into SLP?  I was working at a daycare and my boss told me I would be great as a speech therapist. I hadn’t ever heard of one and after doing some research, I realized it was the perfect combination of daycare and teaching that I was looking for! After volunteering with adults however, I am leaning towards specializing in aphasia with adults.
Previous research or volunteer experience? I volunteered with SLPs at Royal University Hospital, Alvin Buckwold Child Development Cooperative, and Saskatoon City Hospital. During my undergrad, I did a really fun project that I was passionate about! It was called: Too Turnt: Colloquial and Slang Expressions Meaning “Drunk” in Modern Saskatchewan English.
How did you find out you were accepted into the program? I had been accepted to Dalhousie the week before, so I wasn’t as obsessively checking my email as before. I had just finished my work day as an EA and checked my email. When I saw it, I grinned ear to ear the entire drive home and was so excited to go tell my husband the good news in person!
Hardest part of the program so far? Mentally shifting your mindset to understand that grades don’t matter as much (once you’re in this program), and that you’re not competing against your classmates anymore.
Favourite part of the program so far?  Anatomy labs, which is saying a lot because I had never taken an actual anatomy course before, and I was super intimidated.
What do you wish you had known before entering the program? That the majority of the people in this program get in their second try or later. Know whether this program is for sure what you want to do, because you may have to face rejection and try again later. Just because you didn’t get in your first try does not mean that you would not make a good SLP! If this is your dream, follow it!
One cool SLP related blog/article/website we should all check out:  Northern Speech Services is a good website for once you are a SLP or student.


Speech Spotlight: Andrea

January 5, 2018


 AS Hometown: Lethbridge, Alberta
Undergrad Degrees: Diploma in Theatre Arts – Grant McEwan University, Bachelor of Fine Arts Multidisciplinary – Great Distinction, University of Lethbridge
Interests & Hobbies: I sing, play piano and love to bake
Favourite thing about Edmonton: There’s always something to do in Edmonton, festivals, theatre, great restaurants!
Why did you decide to go into SLP? First – my dad had a stroke when I was in grade 10, but that didn’t really stick out until I was inspired by a random website talking about Music Therapy. I didn’t want to do that, but the tab next to it introduced me to Voice Therapy – a more specific road of Speech Language Pathology, that allows me to combine my love of singing and science into one great career.
Previous research or volunteer experience? I unfortunately did not have any research experience prior to the program and if I could go back and change that I think it would be extremely helpful! Volunteer experience: I worked at a clinic for children with a wide range of speech, language and hearing difficulties, and specifically with a little girl who had bilateral cochlear implants and was learning both English and Vietnamese. And finally, I volunteered with an adult Speech group with a range of diagnoses, from aphasia, to dysarthria due to traumatic brain injury, stroke, and some unknown causes. I also worked as a SLP-A at a preschool in Calgary, Alberta.
How did you find out you were accepted into the program? I was at work and saw the e-mail on my phone that I had got accepted, I ran to my SLP and started crying and she and I cried and hugged for a solid 10 minutes.
Hardest part of the program so far? Remembering that we all deserve to be here! We all worked our butts off to get into the program, its important to lean on each other and help each other when we need it.
Favourite part of the program so far? I love learning about the science behind breathing and talking and how everything works together. As well as the Cadaver lab – although I was originally terrified to go look at parts of the body, it definitely helped to solidify what we had learned in class and how it applies to real life.
What do you wish you had known before entering the program? It’s okay if you don’t know everything – we work as a team and the Prof’s are amazing at helping you on your path to a successful masters! You can do it!!!
One cool SLP related blog/article/website we should all check out: The pink Trombone!


First Year Interview: Brynn

December 27, 2017

Hey blog followers! Hanna here – sorry for being a slow-poke getting the blog up and running, but to kick-off my time as webmaster, here is an interview from one of our current first years, that any current applicants might find helpful! Best,

  • H


What did you study at SFU?



At SFU I did a major in Linguistics, an extended minor in Psychology and the Speech Sciences Certificate.

What made you decide on University of Alberta’s SLP program? How did you make the decision between other schools? Did you apply to other schools?



I decided to apply to the University of Alberta’s SLP program after hearing about how they had a clinic on site and did things through a hands-on, competencies centered approach.  This decision was strengthened after talking to SLPs in the field that didn’t go to U of A but had heard nothing but good things about its program.  Right up until the application deadline I was set on only applying to U of A, however, as I was getting my references, it was suggested that I apply to another school just in case.  I did end up applying to Dalhousie as well.

How hard is it to get into this program? How many people do they take a year? What is the average GPA of people accepted?



  • The program itself can be hard to get into given the fact that this is the closest program for people in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
  • I believe this year around 300 people applied, and they accepted 58.
  • The recommended GPA to be competitive upon applying to the program is a 3.7 based on your last 60 credits.


Any advice on asking for references?


At U of A you need 2 academic references and 1 additional references.  When asking for references I think it’s important to ask people that know who you are and can speak to your character.  When asking them, I found it helpful to give them a copy of the reference form, your transcript, your resume and the deadline. I also think it is important to ask them early as they are all very busy.

Personally, I found the additional reference the hardest to select. In the end, I ended up selecting an Occupational Therapist that I had worked with. Even though it was not an SLP I felt that this OT had a better understanding of who I was and how I handle myself in tough situations. I think it is important that your third reference be professional or academic, and not personal.


Any advice on letter of intent?


Writing it:

  • Many people find it easier to start with point form and then formulate the structure of your statement.
  • Make sure to check the page limit

What to include:

  • That you are ready for the demands that graduate school is
  • Try and connect what the school is all about (include the words that they use in talking about prospective students)
  • Talk about why specifically you want to go to U of A more than any other school
  • Finally, talk about WHY you want to be an SLP not just that you do
    • What is it about the profession that makes you interested in it

When you are done:

  • have other people read it including professors or friends.


What experiences in your undergrad do you think helped you get into this program?


Overall, I think that there was a large combination of what helped me get into the program.  I did a Co-Op at a private school working with children with disabilities, I volunteered in an elderly care facility as well as a home for adult with severe disabilities.  In doing my Co-Op I was able to gain experience working with OT and SLP with a variety of children.  I also had a lot of volunteer opportunities that spoke to my leadership abilities.  Finally, I think it was important to show that I could balance multiple things at once.

However, in talking to my fellow classmates, we all come from vastly different backgrounds.  Some of us have worked in schools, some have taught English, some have worked with SLPs and others have no experience in the profession or related field at all.

How is this program structured? What is the general timeline of the 2 years?



Semesters are split in half into blocks where you have three courses in the first block and 2 courses in the second.

  • For example, this semester Block 1 went from August 28 – November 3 and Block 2 goes from November 6 – December 18.  And next semester Block 1 goes from January 8 – March 17 and Block 2 goes from March 19 – April 27.

As of December 2018 we are done all of our classes and begin our placements.


Do you have to do a thesis in the program?


In the program you complete a thesis, group project or joint Masters/PhD program (can chose once you begin). For the group projects, there are a wide range of topics and everyone finds something they are interested in. It gives you the chance to explore something that you might not learn in class while working in groups of 2 or 3. There are topics ranging from researching the motor movements of stuttering, creating learning modules on AAC devices for parents or even looking what aspects of concentration can influence speech.

What are some of your favourite things about the program that set it apart from other SLP programs?

Some of my favourite things about the program are that you are in classes with people from all over Canada and that the program really emphasized the importance of competency base teaching rather than straight memorization.  The professors really emphasize how what you are learning applies to what you will see in clinic and practice skills in the way that you are going to use them in clinic. We even had patients come in so that we could practice our skills on people other than our classmates which was an amazing experience.


Is there anything you don’t like about the program?


Not yet


Do you have any advice for people who are applying for SLP programs in Canada? Words of encouragement?


It really is a great program and a great profession.  If you don’t get in the first time it is worth while to apply again. Also, keep your options open as to what part of the profession you want to specialize in.  Many of my friends began the program interested in working with kids and are now leaning more towards working with an adult population.


Is there anything else you’d like people to know?


– Don’t stress too much about the GRE

– Keep back ups of everything that you do for your school application and keep track of when you send things

– Refer back to the website for more information

– Lastly, the weather really isn’t that bad (so far). It may be cold but it is beautiful and sunny almost every day!

Speechie Spotlight 4…

July 29, 2017

This week’s SLP student in the spotlight is Ally Gjos. Read on and check back often to find out about the wonderful ladies and gentlemen that make up the class of 2018!


Speechie Spotlight 3…

June 7, 2017

This week’s SLP student in the spotlight is Lindsay Ferguson. Read on and check back often to find out about the wonderful ladies and gentlemen that make up the class of 2018!

[Lindsay Ferguson]
 L Hometown: Empress, Alberta
Undergrad Degrees:

Bachelor of Community Rehabilitation and Disability Studies

Speech Language Pathology Assistant Diploma

Interests & Hobbies: Concerts, traveling, DIY projects, gardening, animals
Favourite thing about Edmonton: The river valley
Why did you decide to go into SLP?

I completed the SLP Assistant Diploma at Grant MacEwan and was then a SLP Assistant for several years, which I loved – so that solidified my thoughts on wanting to continue with my masters.  Originally, however, I worked as a nursing aide at a care home and was really affected by all of the residents, especially those requiring speech therapy.  Most of those residents weren’t able to communicate very well with staff, and it absolutely broke my heart.


Previous research or volunteer experience?

As an assistant, I worked for five years at the CRIS Clinic in Edmonton.  It was a really cool experience because I was actually trained onsite in OT and PT, so I was able to provide that type of therapy as well.  As for speech, I saw clients with a variety of neurological conditions such as Multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and stroke.  I also co-lead many therapy groups, including Neighbourhood Chat aphasia groups for several years, which was a fantastic experience.  In addition, I worked in the private sector, where I saw a variety of ages and speech/language challenges. I travelled to client’s homes for therapy, which was really neat because you get a much more “real” sense of their everyday life.  I also volunteered at ABC Headstart and IStar, and had a major research project on communication accessibility in the community for people with aphasia as a requirement for my degree.


How did you find out you were accepted into the program?

Oh man.  I had actually just pulled up to a client’s house and checked my phone before going in and saw the email from Vicki.  I definitely began to cry and then called my boyfriend and one of my best friends. After work, my boyfriend and I went to the Keg to celebrate and ate everything on the menu. It was the best day.

Hardest part of the program so far?

I’ve found balancing the workload with working and having a life challenging.


Favourite part of the program so far?

Hmm, that’s a tough one. I really love the lab components – especially the cadaver and speech science labs.  We’ve had some very cool integration experiences as well.

What do you wish you had known before entering the program?

To take some time before the program starts to just relax if possible


Fun Fact: If I know you even just a little bit I can come up with a limerick about you pretty much straight away

Speech and Hearing Month is here! Did you know…

May 12, 2017

Image credit: Speech-Language & Audiology Canada

Spread the word! May is speech and hearing month!

This month, speech-language pathologists and audiologists are working hard to build awareness about speech and hearing… and you can help too! Check out the resources below from Speech-Language & Audiology Canada to learn more about what speech pathologists and audiologists do for a living and check back throughout the month to learn more about speech, hearing, talking to someone with a communication disorder, and more!

What do speech-language pathologists do? 

What do audiologists do?

If you are in Edmonton, check out our previous post, Speech and Hearing Month, for a list of dates and locations where we will have communication related information and activities for everyone in the family.