You guys, it’s official.
I’m going to UNH for grad school. Somehow I got in, and even more insane, I got a sweet-ass assistantship with the MUB (where Hannah and I have worked on campus for the past couple years), to boot. I trekked through some fluffy snow this morning at 7:30am to find out about the second part, and I haven’t stopped smiling since.
And I’m so excited for these next two years. Graduation gets a lot less scary and a lot more exciting when you have a concrete plan, turns out. It’s finally getting real that I’m kind of almost there. This is one of the last steps until I’m a full-fledged Speech Language Pathologist. That is both terrifying and fucking awesome.
There are a lot of things that make you an SLP. There’s an undergrad degree, an accredited graduate degree, 400+ hours of clinical work, one insane 8-hour test, an optional thesis, a state license, and a national accreditation.
But there’s one other thing that made me be an SLP–my mom.
And by that I mean she forced me.
I came into UNH with a strict major, and a plan. I didn’t go through the standard first year of panicking about not knowing what I wanted/majoring in Russian/taking insane philosophy courses in an attempt to figure it out. (I watched Hannah do that though, and I saluted her everyday for living through that madness.) But I did go through a period where I didn’t quite know what I wanted, it just happened a little earlier.
In sixth grade my Language Arts class did a poetry unit. When my teacher announced it, my soul rolled its eyes and groaned. Poetry? I’m supposed to earnestly write poetry? (I was a cynical 12-year-old, I guess.) But then we started writing. And I loved it.
One day when I was in the car with my dad he asked me what I wanted to do with my life. I wasn’t sure what he was expecting from a 12-year-old, but I don’t think he got the answer he wanted when I told him, “I want to be a writer.” He was smooth about it, though. He asked what I would major in; I said writing. He told me “that’s not really a thing,” so I deferred to English. He then explained, gently, that that wasn’t the best plan. He told me I could be a writer even if I didn’t major in it, and that it was probably best to get a degree in something a little more “concrete.” Out loud I said okay. In my head I said you’re gonna watch me crush this English major one day.
My plans twisted and turned sharply throughout high school. I liked the idea of arguing for a living; I’d be a lawyer. I loved books and history; I’d be an English/History teacher. I got to control the chaos of a third-grade CCD class; I had to be an elementary school teacher. I was still in that camp my senior year when my mom got a bright idea.
Jules, instead of going for education, why don’t you try speech therapy? It’s just like teaching, only you’ll have more options.
But I was stubborn and afraid. I’d already picked all my schools for their education programs, and I didn’t really know what speech pathology was. (The only reason I knew SLP’s existed was because my brother worked with them throughout our childhood.) I didn’t want to start the college search over. I didn’t want my parents to decide my path for me. My mom managed to convince me to switch with the detail that I could use my degree to be an elementary school teacher too. That, and I found out UNH had a program. (If only I knew how long I’d end up being a wildcat.)
I arrived at UNH with a half-baked plan and a limited understanding of what I’d be studying. And I fell into something pretty damn great. The more I learned about this field, the more I wanted to dive in. It was so much more diverse and complicated and scientific than I thought. I loved it so much more than I thought I would.
I got to study phonetics, linguistics, anatomy, neurology, audiology, the physics of sound. I met some wonderful friends. I learned that I do not hate science, as I thought in high school, but that I fucking love it. We got this big packet of information the first week of freshman year, complete with our entire course list, our professors’ names, and a description of the program. Included was a little paragraph about the “mission” of this program and the profession. It ends with, “the ultimate goal being the betterment of the human condition.” Pretty cheesy, but how cool is that?
(That is absolutely a real human brain I got to dissect.)
So mom, this is where I say thank you. Thank you for relentlessly talking me into this whole thing. Thanks for bringing me to UNH and whispering jokes throughout the whole tour so I’d laugh and have a good feeling about the place. For being calm while I freaked out about a test or a project. For showing me the videos of Stephen’s therapy and saving all his IEP’s. For letting me study abroad (I know you didn’t want to). For being my biggest fan.
I love you, mum, and I know you love me more. Also, you finally got your shoutout. Happy now?