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Arnold School of Public Health

December graduate pursues career in speech-language pathologist to work with individuals across the lifespan

December 18, 2020 | Erin Bluvas, bluvase@sc.edu

Kingstree, South Carolina native Marian Easler was on the path to becoming a speech-language pathologist for several years before she enrolled at UofSC. After observing speech therapy sessions as a high school student, she studied speech-language pathology as an undergraduate at Columbia College. 

“I have always enjoyed working with individuals across the lifespan, and I knew this profession would allow me to do that,” Easler says.

By this time, Easler had already become familiar with the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders’ (COMD) Montgomery Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic (previously known as the USC Speech and Hearing Research Center). On multiple occasions, she shadowed clinical associate professor Angela McLeod and senior clinical instructor Sarah Scarborough – observing as they interacted with graduate students, modeled treatment methods and gave feedback during sessions.

I have always enjoyed working with individuals across the lifespan, and I knew this profession would allow me to do that.

-Marian Easler, Master of Speech Pathology 2020

“Their teaching methods and approachability meant a lot to me as a future graduate clinician,” Easler says. “I hoped then that I would one day have the opportunity to work under their supervision.”

When it was her turn, Easler made the most of the opportunities presented by the Master of Speech Pathology program (recently renamed Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology – Residential), particularly in the many clinical opportunities it provided. Working with Jessica Klusek in the assistant professor’s SC Family Experience Lab, Easler conducted research on the correlation between syntax structure and being a female carrier for fragile X syndrome. She also found a mentor in Distinguished Professor Emeritus and chair Kenn Apel, who served as her academic advisor.

“In our meetings, Dr. Apel always reassured me that every clinician brings something different to the field,” Easler says. “He always encouraged me to focus on my strengths and to always strive to be a clinical scientist.”

After her December graduation, Easler will complete her clinical fellowship at KM Pediatric Therapy in Durham, North Carolina where she will work with children in the home health setting. She will serve a variety of clients, including those with Autism Spectrum Disorder and children who experience feeding and swallowing challenges. In the future, she would like to specialize in feeding and swallowing treatment for this population. 

“Take every opportunity to observe in various settings, and volunteer at your state speech, language, and hearing conferences,” Easler advises other students interested in a career in speech-language pathology. “This field serves a broad range of clients and it would be beneficial to observe both pediatric and adult clients prior to applying for graduate school.”


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