Sarah Sharp is a senior at the University of Texas in Austin, on track to graduate May 2022. Born and raised in West Texas, she's made Austin her home and enjoys biking, street tacos, and advocating for people who stutter in the many organizations she's involved in. Below is our interview, conducted on the sunny UT campus in Austin.
"What’s your major?
Speech language and hearing sciences, on the speech pathology track. Speech pathologists most commonly provide speech therapy for children with issues with speech sounds, adults who have had strokes and have issues with word retrieval, people with swallowing disorders, and a wide arrange of client with varying background and settings.
How has your education prepared you for the workplace?
I think that the University of Texas offers really unique clinical opportunities. So I've had the honor of being a student clinician at the Lang Stuttering Institute, now the Blank Center, where I worked with a child who stutters. We targeted communication competencies and being a confident communicator overall. I think that I've had the honor of getting a lot of experience at UT that will prepare me for the workplace.
How does college effectively prepare students for “the real world”?
I think that all of my classes at UT have tried to put emphasis on cultural diversity, and I believe that's always something that's going to be relevant as well as just learning to be aware of cultural differences and equity issues. UT gives a lot of different perspectives, and that's helpful to form a well rounded worldview.
Why did you decide to go to college?
I decided to go to UT because I really liked the Austin area. I grew up in a smaller town, so the idea of moving to Austin always just sounded really exciting and fun. I love the culture here, and I love the community that I found here. I think that the location is what made me pick UT and what has made me love UT.
What would you say is the most important thing you've learned in your major?
I think learning how to counsel, because that is a part of the job in any population, and learning how to interact with clients and patients in a respectful and empathetic manner. I appreciate learning to support people and clients because they're often going through really difficult and challenging things.
What’s a misconception people have about college?
I think that I thought that there wouldn't be a chance of getting a good job without a degree and that I wouldn't have the same opportunities if I didn't get a degree. To some extent that's true. but obviously there are lots of really great opportunities for those without a degree. So while I'm happy that I did choose to pursue this, I don't think that it's the end-all be-all that I thought it was.
How do you hope to grow and develop after graduation?
I think that I am excited to be in the workforce and be done with school. I'm like, very appreciative for the time that I've had in school and the privilege that I've had to not work while in school, but I'm excited to have more boundaries between work and rest. I think that when you're in school, it feels like there's always a chance to study, there's always a chance to do assignments. Especially with the career I'm pursuing where you can clock in and clock out and you don't take the work home with you, I think that would provide a lot more structure and stability and comfort to me in the future where I don't always feel like something is looming over me. So I'm excited about that.
Do you have any closing remarks on college, the state of today's work force, or anything concerning students our age and what the world demands from them?
I think that since COVID made Zoom and working from home or remotely an option, we should be able to take advantage of that since it's such an effective choice for some people. There are definitely some times where meeting in person is better, but I think that the convenience of being on Zoom should not be forgotten if there ever is a post-COVID age.
Pictured above on the right is Sarah, where she is tabling for the Lang Stuttering Institute (LSI SLO); a student led organization focused on advocating for people who stutter, where Sarah serves as the President. Sarah is also a member of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association (NSSLHA), and is planning on continuing her education at graduate school in the Fall.