As one of 24 members of the inaugural class of the University’s Speech-Language Pathology (SLP)
graduates, Caitlin Raymond ’17SLP has a lot to be proud of during the past two years. From serving as the SLP Class of 2017 president, presenting among professional colleagues at the biggest conference in her profession to continuing to foster her love of serving special-needs populations, Caitlin Raymond reflected upon her numerous professional and personal experiences as a graduating member of Salus’ SLP Class of 2017.
Q: What is your background? Why did you choose SLP as a career path?
I come from a big loud family, and grew up in Wilmington, DE. My parents now live in Chadds Ford, PA, and I am close with my entire family. I have my undergraduate degree in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology from Loyola University Maryland, but I did take two gap years between Loyola and Salus University. During my time off, I was very fortunate to get a lot of professional experience with individuals who have special needs. I worked as a program director at a center for children with neurological disabilities, as a clinical coordinator for adults on Medicaid Waivers, and as an applied behavior analysis therapist.
I chose to go into the SLP profession because I knew I wanted to help others, and I knew I wanted to work with special needs populations. I considered special education, but I didn’t want to be a teacher. At the end of the day, I know I am meant to be a speech-language pathologist. I am meant for this profession because I love to talk. It sounds silly, but as a self-proclaimed “speechie,” I spend my whole day helping others with their communication. I also get to talk all day long, which is something that I love to do. (Ask any one of my poor professors or classmates!)
Q: Why did you choose Salus’ SLP program? What did you think about when choosing to enter a brand new program?
I did a lot of research about Salus and about the process of becoming an accredited SLP program before accepting my place in the inaugural class. I really love and value Salus’ views on inter-disciplinary collaboration. When I treat a student, client or patient, I need to know more about that individual other than their swallowing and communication functionality. I need to know about the person as a whole, and that’s how I believe each person should be treated – as a whole person. This was probably the biggest factor for me.
SLP Class of 2017
I am so incredibly grateful for the opportunity to attend Salus University and to help build the SLP program. Salus University looked at more than just paperwork to admit students, and I hope this continues. A high GPA does not always equate to a good clinician. When I left my initial interview at Salus, I felt strongly that Salus knew who I was as a person, and who I could be as a clinician. No other school interview spent as much time and effort trying to learn that information. I hope that never changes.
Q: Tell me about your experience as a student throughout the program.
As students, we are constantly being encouraged to be the best clinicians we can be. For example, I never thought I could conduct research, but not only did Salus encourage us to design and implement a research project, my professor Dr. Carrie Knight encouraged me to apply to present at the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) this past November. Dr. Knight worked with me endlessly - early mornings, late nights and countless emails - to prove to me that I could do this. I was accepted, and I did present at ASHA, which is something I would have never done without the support of Salus University and Dr. Knight.
Every single one of our faculty members is incredible, but I don’t know if the 25 of us would have made it through without our interim department chair, Bob Serianni. I cannot tell you how much he’s done to make us the best SLPs we can be. We’re all really grateful he stepped into the interim role before our wonderful department chair, Dr. Kathleen Youse, joined us.
Q: How do you feel being a member of the very first SLP graduating class?
I cannot say how grateful I am to be a part of the SLP inaugural class. We have been blessed with so many incredible educators. This includes our clinical instructors as well as our amazing faculty. We were given an opportunity to build a program from the ground up. We were given leadership roles and encouraged to express our opinions and thoughts.
I am a firm believer in the saying “everything happens for a reason,” and I promise you that I was meant to be part of Salus’ inaugural class. Going through this process with such a small class was really a unique experience. The professional and personal relationships I’ve made here will stay with me for years. My hope is that classes that follow us will continue to build and improve upon this very strong foundation.
Q: What are your plans after graduation?
I officially accepted an offer to work at a specialized residential school for children 5-21 years of age with special needs. I knew I wanted to work in a setting like this, and was so incredibly grateful to have found a wonderful place to work.
My experience at Salus has just continued to foster my love of special needs and helping others. At Salus, I know I always have support, whether it is from the faculty, clinical educators, or my classmates. I wanted to find a job where I felt the same amount of support, and I feel I have found that.
Learn More about the SLP Program