July 29, 2021 | Erin Bluvas, firstname.lastname@example.org
“We are not passengers as we complete our education, we are the drivers,” says Rebecca Harper, an August graduate of the Master of Science in Speech Language Pathology – Distance Education program.
Harper has been driving her education toward a career in communication sciences and disorders since the Toronto, Canada native participated in a co-op program during high school. Working with a speech-language pathologist at a nearby hospital, she loved the challenging, fast-paced environment.
“Communication is the foundation of human connection, and therefore is a key component that supports positive health,” Harper says. “I decided that I wanted to help people overcome challenges in communication so that they can better participate in their communities and experience greater quality of life.”
Harper completed a bachelor’s degree in health science at the University of Western Ontario, followed by an assistant certificate in communicative disorders. Since 2014, she has worked with pediatric populations in home, daycare, school and clinical settings. When she decided to earn a master’s degree, she looked for outstanding programs that offered distance education options so she could continue serving as a speech-language pathology assistant for a district school board – working to support students with exceptionalities to maximize participation and success in the school setting.
“The communication sciences and disorders department has some amazing professors and clinical instructors,” the 2021 Outstanding M.S. - Distance Education Student of the Year Award winner says of her experience with the program. “Two that have really inspired me are Dr. Suzanne Adlof and Dr. Beth Barnes. These professors are exceptional; they are experts in their areas, have strong passion for the field, and care deeply about passing knowledge on to future generations of speech-language pathologists.”
Based on her professional and educational experiences, Harper has developed a passion for rural healthcare accessibility – an issue she says affects both Canada and the United States. After gaining experience in an acute care hospital setting, she would like to expand her long-term focus to addressing the challenges (e.g., inpatient and outpatient speech-language pathology services) faced by rural populations.
“Rural healthcare accessibility disproportionately affects indigenous members of rural communities,” Harper says. “I would like to be an advocate for the provision of speech-language pathology services in rural Canada, as people in rural communities deserve access to high-quality healthcare.”