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Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences class

Christine Estes

Tell us about your path to Hofstra University.
I already held a master’s degree in Opera Performance and was working as a performer but I also had a day-job in a hospital. I was working as a temp in a language disorder department and became fascinated. I asked to observe whenever possible- lunch hours, after shift, etc. and discovered the Communication Disorders department. I learned about a voice specialty that I thought was a perfect fit for me.  Even though I applied to many schools, Hofstra’s well-rounded program with opportunities for intensive, hands-on clinical experiences really attracted me. I liked the faculty profiles and expertise, that’s what really drew me to Hofstra.

What opportunities did you take advantage of at Hofstra?
I always asked for extra opportunities. I worked as a research assistant for Dr. Davidoff. I wrote a research paper with Dr. Bloom that was published while I was still a student.   At the Joan and Arnold Saltzman Center, the on-campus clinic, I was able to work with a large variety of populations. I worked with a men’s aphasia group that was a great experience. My internships were also varied and challenging. I really was give lots of diverse and interesting experiences.

Tell us more about your internship placements.
I worked with a singer who had a professional career. It was my first time working with a singer and put me right where I wanted to be but at the same time was intimidating. I was able to use both my speech-language pathology training and my background in voice training so he could go back on tour. That’s when I realized I could merge both disciplines to help others through their issues.

Did you find any mentors among the faculty here?
Absolutely. I consider Dr. Bloom, and Dr. Ferrand to me mentors of mine. Dr. Ferrand is a wonderful resource for me. I still stay in touch with her. Wendy Silverman was an outstanding guide for me. She gave me excellent advice and direction.

How did your experience prepare you for your job search?
I think the broad internship experiences made me a good candidate for a lot of positions. I had a strong background to draw upon so in interviews I was able to fully answer questions because of the training I had. The courses focused on theoretical underpinnings so I understood the “whys” of applications. I was also prepared with a multitude of approaches so I was able to think on my feet. I really received very grounded practical training.  It took me about two months to find employment after graduation. The first job I had was in a skilled nursing facility. I still work there, per diem. It gave me great sub-acute medical experience. I moved into my current job at Weill Cornell Medical College and it’s my dream job!

How were you able to finance your education at Hofstra? Did you receive any scholarships or assistantships?
I received some scholarships from Hofstra which were helpful. I also worked part-time in a hospital and took loans at the end. My husband supported my education and helped me get through as well.

What inspires you most about your profession?
I love being able to help someone bring back something that’s really important to them that they have lost. I am more proud of performers that can recover and get back on stage than I ever was of myself on stage. I had my own struggles and working with others helps me understand my own voice that much more.  Helping people to communicate and increase their confidence is powerful and amazing. I work in an otolaryngology department and focus mainly on voice disorders. I specialize working with performing artists with voice and swallowing disorders.

I still pursue research and have presented and facilitated workshops on voice at international conferences. I am beginning to explore teaching at the college level and have a guest lecturer several times.

What advice would you give to others considering Speech-Language-Hearing programs at Hofstra?
Be prepared to work really hard. Know how to manage your time. Be willing to try something even if you are not sure of the result. Be open to feedback and critique - it only makes you a better clinician.  For anyone looking for a program to make them a well-rounded clinician with lots of varied experience, this is a wonderful program. I loved my time in the Speech-Language-Hearing program at Hofstra.

Christine Estes

M.A. in Speech-Language Pathology
Queens, New York