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Arnold School of Public Health

Master of Speech Pathology graduate pursues career working with children to help them thrive

July 31, 2020 | Erin Bluvas,

Knoxville, Tennessee native, Erin Van Meter was in year three of career soul-searching when she stumbled upon her calling. The Furman University graduate (Bachelor of Arts in Education, Environmental Studies) was introduced to the field of communication sciences and disorders while nannying for an infant who had a bottle-feeding aversion.

“His mother was trying to return to work after maternity leave and was concerned about his calorie intake in her absence,” Van Meter says. “After researching solutions to his situation, I learned that speech-language pathologists provide therapy for people who have feeding and swallowing difficulties, and I decided I wanted to help children receive the nutrition they need for healthy growth and development.”

That fall, she enrolled in the Master of Speech Pathology (recently renamed Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology – Residential) program in the Arnold School’s Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. During the program, she learned more about swallowing difficulties and feeding disorders among pediatric populations and discovered an interest in the diagnostic process, which involves conducting and analyzing instrumental swallow evaluations to determine the best plan for treatment. To round out her support of mothers and infants, Van Meter is currently working on her lactation counselor certification.

“Each member of the COMD faculty has been instrumental in shaping me into the clinician I am today, and I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to learn from such knowledgeable and passionate instructors,” the Outstanding Master of Speech Pathology Student of the Year says of her experiences at UofSC. “Additionally, one of my favorite experiences was working as a graduate assistant in the Dean’s Office. All of my co-workers made a lasting impact on my life, and my time at UofSC would not have been the same without them.”

After her August graduation, Van Meter plans to work at an outpatient clinic, serving children who have a wide range of abilities and needs. Long term, she would like to obtain an inpatient pediatric position in a neonatal intensive care unit, where she can provide feeding therapy for vulnerable infants.

“Speech-language pathology is a rewarding field with a broad scope of practice,” Van Meter says to those who are considering a similar career. “Do you want to provide articulation and language therapy for children in schools? Go for it. Would you rather work with elderly adults in a skilled nursing facility to improve their memories and problem-solving skills? You can do that too. With a master’s degree in speech-language pathology, it feels like the possibilities are endless.”

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