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Arnold School of Public Health

Student completes second Arnold School degree to support children who are deaf or hard of hearing

July 22, 2022 | Erin Bluvas, bluvase@sc.edu

Tegan Osborne’s six-year journey at UofSC began when she discovered the South Carolina Honors College (ranked No. 1 in the nation among public universities). The daughter of a physician, she already knew the Arnold School would be a great place for her undergraduate studies and that she wanted to be a part of the public health world.

“I knew I was passionate about serving others, solving complex puzzles to reach a solution, participating in and disseminating research to empower evidence-based practices, and collaborating with others,” Osborne says. “I just didn’t know where I fit in.”

Her undergraduate experiences answered that question for her: communication sciences and disorders (COMD). Since freshman year, Osborne has conducted research in COMD faculty affiliate Krystal Werfel’s Written Language Lab.

I was captivated by the combination of research and clinical work in this field,” Osborne says. “I can make lasting relationships with clients while implementing evidence-based practices.

-Tegan Osborne, M.S. in Speech-Language Pathology-Residential 2022

The team’s work to track children’s language and literacy skills from Pre-K through elementary school sparked her interest the field, particularly the need for evidence-based interventions for children with hearing loss. Further, it built on her high school summer experiences in Mexico where she volunteered at an orphanage by providing full-time care to 10 little girls – one of whom had undiagnosed hearing loss and others with speech/language/literacy challenges.  

“I was captivated by the combination of research and clinical work in this field,” Osborne says. “I can make lasting relationships with clients while implementing evidence-based practices.”

When looking at graduate schools, the Magellan Scholar couldn’t find one that compared to the program right in front of her. She enrolled in the COMD department’s M.S. in Speech-Language Pathology – Residential program, stating that the strong research and ample clinical experiences could not be passed up.

“I cannot thank my mentor, Dr. Werfel, enough for the opportunities she has led me to throughout my undergraduate and graduate careers,” she says. “She has challenged me to be a better researcher, think critically and search for knowledge.”

During her program, Osborne lent her Spanish language skills and expertise in working with children who are deaf and hard of hearing to her role as a graduate clinician. Her placements included Pre-K/K-12 settings, private practice clinics, a retirement home and the Montgomery Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic.

Working with another mentor, clinical assistant professor Gina Crosby-Quinatoa, Osborne volunteered to help underserved populations, including the local Spanish-speaking community. The Most Promising Pediatric Clinician (Chicago Speech Therapy) joined the Auditory-Verbal/Cochlear Implant specialization track and led the UofSC chapter of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association as president.

“As an undergrad, I was looking for ways to connect to others in the field, but there wasn’t an organization out there for these professions,” Osborne says. “With the help of many great undergraduate students, we founded the Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology Interest Group that connects prospective students, brings in guest speakers and hosts professional development events for the future speech-language pathologists and audiologists.” 

After completing her final placement at the Potomac River Clinic in Washington D.C., Osborne will graduate in August and begin her clinical fellowship year. She plans to earn a certification in Auditory-Verbal Therapy as a Listening and Spoken Language Specialist and would love to work with an interdisciplinary cochlear implant team at some point. She is also looking forward to providing parent coaching and family-centered services to children with hearing differences.

“Talk to current students or professionals in the field, get involved in research, and, if possible, shadow to learn more about the day-to-day experience,” Osborne says to students considering a career in public health or COMD. “I think these experiences are crucial to make an informed decision about what degrees of higher education you want to pursue and knowing why you chose the field is a great reminder when the days are long.”


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