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Arnold School of Public Health


Christine Younes receives MCD Outstanding Student award and commits to advocating for those with developmental disabilities

June 12, 2017 | Erin Bluvas, bluvase@sc.edu 

When Christine (Tina) Younes flew to South Carolina from Denver for the 2017 Arnold School of Public Health Hooding Ceremony in May, it was only her second trip to the state. A student within the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders’ (COMD) Master of Communication Disorders in Speech-Language Pathology (MCD) program, Younes has completed the majority of her program requirements via distance learning.

When she arrived at the Koger Center to participate in the hooding ceremony, Younes discovered another reason to be glad she had made the trip. She received the 2017 Outstanding MCD Student of the Year Award from her department.

“I do not see anything I do as ‘outstanding’ so to be presented this award is humbling,” says Younes. “I simply love to learn and find passion in helping others. I am eager to begin my career as a speech-language pathologist, making a difference in the life of each individual I serve and continuously learning from his or her unique stories.”

I am eager to begin my career as a speech-language pathologist, making a difference in the life of each individual I serve and continuously learning from his or her unique stories.

-Christine Younes, MCD Student

That career will officially kick off in August after Younes graduates from the MCD program—one of COMD’s two master’s degree paths (the other is the full-time, on-campus Master of Speech Pathology degree) that prepare students for careers in speech-language pathology. Equally challenging, both degrees involve comprehensive coursework and critical clinical experiences. The MCD option is structured to be part-time with academic instruction offered through distance learning, in-person components, and technology-supported live interactions. Practical experience is acquired through the department’s External Clinical Placement Program, which has a network of more than 600 external partner sites across the United States.

The flexibility of the program and accessibility of COMD faculty were factors that initially attracted Younes to the program. The diverse perspectives and extensive expertise were also appealing.

“I decided to attend USC for their reputation in academic excellence and promise to develop students to become successful professionals,” says the Nebraska native. “I chose the MCD program due to the opportunities the distance education program provided, such as learning from professionals from another state, where ideas and concepts may be different; collaborating and building relationships with students across the country, which has created a network of colleagues; and working full-time within the field, which allowed me to implement my classroom learning each day.”

A graduate of the University of Nebraska where she earned a bachelor’s degree in communication disorders, Younes was already working in the field when she began the MCD program. For four years, she worked at The Joshua School in Denver—a non-profit committed to serving individuals with autism spectrum disorders and other developmental disabilities.   

I decided to attend USC for their reputation in academic excellence and promise to develop students to become successful professionals.

-Christine Younes, MCD Student

“Throughout my time at The Joshua School, I was able to collaborate and work on a team of remarkable and committed professionals in the fields of applied behavior analysis, occupational therapy, special education, and speech therapy,” says Younes. “The entire Joshua School community focuses on valuing each unique mind, body, and spirit by leaving egos at the door, meeting each child where they are, and dreaming big; these foundational beliefs have shaped my passion to work with others in order to best help others.”

Younes has applied this perspective to her MCD coursework and clinical rotations, leading to her success in both areas of her program. Her current external practicum placement, with Children’s Hospital Colorado, helped refine her interests within the COMD field.

“The Children’s Hospital of Colorado team of speech-language pathologists instilled in me a passion for augmentive and alternative communication that I hope to share with patients, families, and coworkers I work with in the future,” says Younes. “I have had the opportunity to meet many incredible speech-language pathologists here and now am eager to learn from their team as I finish my graduate degree.”

I plan to use my degree to advocate for individuals with developmental disabilities to ensure their voices are heard.

-Christine Younes, MCD Student

This team has inspired her so much, that she intends to adopt a similar focus for her career as a speech-language pathologist. “I plan to use my degree to advocate for individuals with developmental disabilities to ensure their voices are heard,” she says. “I believe that each person has a right to express his or her wants, needs, and ideas; whether that is through augmentative and alternative communication or natural speech. Ultimately, I hope to teach the power of communication.”

Throughout her MCD program, Younes has taken advantage of the education, clinical opportunities, and mentorship that came her way. “Ms. Dianne Dixon listened to all my crazy ideas about what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go in my career,” Younes says of one such mentor. “Her honesty when presented with these ideas was always appreciated and now here I am three years later achieving many of those ideas and more!”

With a flexible, reputable program like the MCD degree, Younes believes there’s no reason not to pursue your dreams. “Leave your ego at the door and go for it!” she counsels. “The countless things one learns through selflessly helping others are priceless.”