Write an essay where you tell us about what drives you in your pursuit of your graduate degree.

When I was eight years old, I started to carry a notebook with me everywhere I went. It was just the beginning of my passion for communication and self-expression. I, just like every other human being, wanted to feel heard and capable of getting needs met. This passion, as well as a passion for assisting people with disabilities, inspired me to obtain a Masters degree in Speech-Language Pathology.
Growing up, my joy in self-expression was coupled with the bitter mindfulness that not everyone possesses the same ability to express their thoughts and feelings. My brother who has an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) was, for many years, unable to express himself other than with body language, crying, and yelling. I have pondered for many years what my brother would say if he were able, especially after we discovered that my brother’s intelligence quotient (IQ) is very high. I wanted him to be able to achieve any goal in life that he wanted to accomplish. Based on how he spends his time, I imagine he could make a brilliant graphic designer or architect. Without the verbal skills needed to operate in most of these job positions in our society, he not yet able to make art beyond what is considered recreational.
During my work after graduating with my Bachelors degree, I felt something was missing. I adored connecting with people and providing direct services. I knew my work in mental health agencies had an impact. Regardless of these positive outcomes, I still felt a harrowing itch to serve people with disabilities. I still see individuals living with various disabilities as people with emotions to share, a desire to belong, a wish for relief in the face of stressors, and a wealth of creative ideas to spread. Speech and language can slowly but surely unlock many of these for many individuals. Obtaining a Masters in Speech-Language Pathology is an excellent way to use my creative problem-solving skills and love for rehabilitative services to serve others like my brother.

Chelsea from Illinois
University of Wisconsin Eau Claire