Where Are They Now: Grace Gawron, MS ‘18

In a high school English class, Grace Gawron, MS ‘18, was assigned to write an essay about a potential career she might like to pursue. Since she had a family friend who needed speech therapy, she decided to write her essay about the speech-language pathology profession.

Grace Gawron gardening“I found speech-language pathology super-interesting. And, the more I looked into it during my undergrad, the more I learned about it and the more I fell in love with it,” said Gawron, who graduated from Bloomsburg University with a bachelor’s degree in audiology and speech-language pathology (SLP) in 2014.

Gawron took a less conventional path to Salus University by first attending a community college and working at a local elementary school in autistic support as a teacher’s aide, ostensibly to gain some experience with the population she would be working with as a speech-language pathologist.

That helped when she met with admissions counselors at Salus. In fact, she was applying to other schools but it was the Office of Admissions that tilted the scale in favor of attending the Elkins Park, Pennsylvania University and entering what was then a Speech-Language Pathology (SLP) program in its infancy.

“I found the admissions counselors at Salus really approachable. They had time for me as a prospective student,” she said. As a member of just the University’s second SLP cohort, that didn’t deter her interest. “I knew it was a new program, but when I learned about the amount of hands-on experience through internships and through the University’s on campus, Speech-Language Institute (SLI), that really appealed to my learning style . . . hands-on and by doing.”

Grace Gawron sitting in the mountainsWhile as Salus, Gawron was vice president of University’s chapter of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association (NSSLHA), which helped her connect with other SLP students, take on a leadership role in her cohort and provided her with what she said was some great experience prior to going out into the workforce. She added that the hands-on experience she received during her Salus SLP training also contributed greatly to preparing her for life after graduate school.

“It helped guide me into what specifically I wanted to go into and specialize within SLP. What path I wanted to take — educational or medical or something in between,” said Gawron.

She now works at Timothy School in Berwyn, Pennsylvania, a private school for kindergarten to 21 with an autism diagnosis. She has a wide range of students who are considered to have complex communication needs.

“My caseload is small but my workload is large. That’s really needed because more than half of my students are augmentative and alternate communication (ACC) users,” said Gawron. “Some of my students are using devices, some are using low-tech support like communication boards, pointing to icons. That’s an area where I have a lot of great experience now.”

Grace Gawron wedding dayA lot has happened for Gawron since her grad school days at Salus. In 2019, she married Carson Tom, the couple bought a house in 2020 and now they are expecting their first child this spring. In addition, Gawron loves being outdoors, hiking in national parks and gardening in her back yard.

She really loves where she works now and gets to be part of an integrated model, which puts her in close contact with other teachers and professionals such as occupational therapists.

“I’m really passionate about treating our students as whole people and bringing all of the specialties together because I’ve seen such success with it. I really like that,” said Gawron.

She currently is supervising her second graduate student — the first one was from Salus and the current one is from La Salle University — and she’d like to do more of that in the future.

“I really enjoy sharing my experience with someone who is new,” said Gawron. “It’s fun to have the tables turned, to think back to what my experience was as a grad student and to share my passion for our profession.”