Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology Graduate Stresses Adaptability

Hannah McCloskey ’22C

Hannah McCloskey ’22C began her academic career at a different institution, but it didn’t offer the major she truly desired: Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology. The Whitestone, Queens, native decided to return home and pursue the Bachelor of Arts degree at St. John’s University as a commuter student.

“I initially visited St. John’s University because my mom is an alumna,” she offered. “I was attracted by the beautiful campus and well-organized speech-language pathology program. St. John’s also offered unparalleled opportunities to involve myself in the collegiate community and make a difference. The faculty were extremely welcoming; just by talking to them, I could tell that I would have a far more personal experience than I had my first year at another school.”

When Ms. McCloskey transferred to St. John’s, she joined the University’s chapter of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association (NSSLHA), the only national student organization for preprofessionals studying communication sciences and disorders (CSD) recognized by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).

“NSSHLA was a great way to meet others in my major, as well as get to know the professors,” she observed. Ms. McCloskey served as secretary for the organization in her junior year and was president in her senior year.

Hannah McCloskey ’22C
Hannah McCloskey poses with members of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association.

In both roles, she planned and hosted CSD-centered activities that engaged members outside of in-class learning. “Our members heard from St. John’s alumni through events such as a case studies workshop, career panel, and diversity panel. In addition, we hosted events to help our members with important tasks such as résumé, personal statement, and interview workshops, as well as a senior panel.” She also recognized the importance of bonding activities for members by organizing movie nights and trivia nights.

“Leading the chapter has been challenging, especially continuing meetings and engaging with members while adapting to ever-changing COVID-19 regulations,” Ms. McCloskey said. “Nevertheless, this was an extremely rewarding experience as I was able to work with my peers to create an impact in the CSD and St. John’s community.”

As a transfer student, she felt completely welcomed into the St. John’s community—which was a counterpoint to her initial college experience.

“I experienced two universities of comparable size, and it was not until I arrived at St. John’s that I found a sense of community. At my previous university, I felt lost and nameless in a sea of students. When I came to St. John’s, everything felt personalized. Forming relationships with other students and faculty was much easier. I believe that the small class sizes and devotion of the faculty play a key part in the sense of community at St. John’s.”

She added, “Our students consistently go out of their way to participate in volunteer work and engage with student organizations on campus.”

During her time at St. John’s, Ms. McCloskey worked at the Global Language and Culture Center (GLCC) as a tutor, which was one of her most memorable experiences. At the center, students can start practicing one or several of the languages currently offered at St John’s. 

“I loved tutoring students in Phonetics and Language Acquisition, two foundational courses in my major. Getting through to them, helping them understand material that they were struggling with, was always rewarding. It is an experience I will not soon forget.”

Ms. McCloskey will attend Queens College in the fall for graduate studies in Speech-Language Pathology. “The field continues to inspire me, knowing that I will soon join in the great work being done to assist those requiring services.”

Her goal is to work with children in either a school or hospital setting, “helping them to share their voices and follow their passions.” “The future offers so much variety and opportunity in this field that I look forward to exploring,” she said.

Adaptability, Ms. McCloskey noted, has been a theme for her time at St. John’s. “I had to adapt to a new school, new peers, and a new campus. Not long after, the pandemic hit, and we had to adapt to virtual learning and social distancing. I had to adapt not only to online learning, but also to tutoring virtually and leading the NSSLHA chapter online. During my final semester, I had to reacclimate to hosting in-person activities. Although it has been trying at times, I know that the ability to adapt, which I strengthened as a student here, has prepared me for whatever the future holds.”