A question and answer session with one of our young alumni, Katelyn Maffei.
Q: What program(s) are you in?
A: I'm in the Blindness and Low Vision Studies (BLVS) programs: Teachers of Students with Visual Impairments (TVI) and Vision Rehabilitation Therapy (VRT).
Q: Why did you want to pursue this career?
A: I got my undergrad in elementary and special education and I was looking to go further and get my master's. I didn't really know what I wanted to specialize in, but I knew I wanted something specific. And, my really good friend Micella, she's actually in the programs with me right now as well. She mentioned to me, ‘Oh, have you ever heard about TVI?’ I hadn't. So, I looked into it and I just fell in love with it and I'm like, yes, this is absolutely what I want to do. And, then in my second semester in TVI, I took a class that had a lot of life skills in it and that's where I really fell in love with VRT and I'm like, can I do both? So that's how I got into doing both.
Q: Why did you choose Salus?
A: There are three programs in Pennsylvania to be a teacher of the visually impaired, but Kutztown [University] is a bachelor's degree and I wanted to do a master's degree and Salus just seemed like the obvious pick for me. I feel like since it's so based on optometry I was really going to get the clinical and the anatomy aspect of the vision profession.
Q: What have you discovered about your subject area as a grad student that you wish you knew as an undergrad student?
A: Well, everything, because I didn't know anything about vision professions. As an undergrad student, I went for education, and this kind of leads me into, why I'm so passionate about what I'm doing because it blows my mind that I was a senior in college and I was majoring in special education and I had never even heard about teachers for the visually impaired. And, that to me is just crazy because those teachers are needed so badly.
Q: What do you feel is unique about the programs at Salus?
A: The professors in all the programs are amazing. I feel like the relationships that I've made with the professors, they care so much about the students that they're working with. That to me is something really special about our program. Just the relationships I've made with the professors.
Q: What advice would you offer a peer who might be struggling in a specific subject or class?
A: Definitely make a one-on-one Zoom call with your professor. You know, they want to help you, they want to help you succeed, they want to see you do well and sometimes it just takes that initiative to know and be able to admit when you need help and just taking that one step, it really pays off.
Q: What advice would you offer an undergrad considering pursuing an advanced degree in this field?
A: I would say learn the specifics about each one and don't count something out. I'm a teacher right now, so I taught preschool this past year. I went to school to be a teacher. My whole world is education. I've wanted to be a teacher since I was in kindergarten. And, then I took that class and I learned about vision rehabilitation therapy and I never thought I would want to learn about working with adults. I never thought I would want to do something a little more healthcare-related. I never thought I would ever go off that little path I had made for myself and I'm really happy I did. I'm really enjoying it so much. And, don't be scared to try something new because it might really surprise you how much you like it.
To see Katelyn’s full interview, check out the accompanying video.