Erin Cummins received her M.S. in Communication Sciences and Disorders in 2016. Originally from St. Simons Island in southeast Georgia, she attended Glynn Academy and transferred to the Atlanta area during her sophomore year from Camden County High School. She spent her undergraduate years at the University of Georgia and graduated with a degree in political science.
What made you choose Georgia State?
I chose Georgia State and the College of Education & Human Development because of its location and proximity to my family and friends. I was already attending the university as a post-baccalaureate student and was familiar with the professors and the campus, which made the transition to graduate school easier. I also knew that the location would allow me to have a greater variety of clinical internship opportunities and volunteer experiences than a more rural university.
Why did you choose the program you’re in?
I chose to study Communication Sciences and Disorders for a variety of reasons. I was actually a political science and pre-law major in my undergraduate career at the University of Georgia and found, through a college volunteer program at Camp Twin Lakes, that I really enjoyed working one-on-one with people and using my skills to help others. After college, I took some time off to decide what I really wanted to do with my life. I did a lot of research into speech-language pathology and realized it was so much more than helping kids say the “s” sound correctly. I began to take post-baccalaureate courses in the field and do some observations. This helped me realize I really enjoyed learning about speech-language pathology and wanted to become a speech-language pathologist to work with adults.
What are your research interests while in school and career goals after graduation?
I am very interested in aphasia, traumatic brain injury, and other cognitive-communicative disorders and the effect they have on an individual’s ability to communicate effectively. I am especially interested in the chronic effects of these conditions and alternative methods to continue therapy once insurance payments for therapy are discontinued. I am also interested in the effect of increased traumatic brain injuries in our military service men and women serving abroad. In the future, I see myself working in acute care or in a rehabilitation center with the military through a Veteran’s Hospital, the Department of Defense or on a military base.
Who has had the biggest influence on your academic and/or career trajectory at the College of Education & Human Development and why?
Dr. Jacqueline Laures-Gore is one of my favorite professors at Georgia State University. She specializes in adult neurogenic communication disorders and directs several projects related to stress and aphasia and alternative treatment methods. She finds a way to make the subject material very interesting and applicable to our future clinical experiences. She also provides us with lots of opportunities to learn from other individuals in our community and attend lectures on a variety of topics related to neurogenic communication disorders. Ms. Mary Rambow has also had a big influence on my career trajectory. She is a clinical supervisor in the Georgia State University Speech-Language-Hearing clinic. She helped me realize how to apply the information I learned in class to my clinical experiences. She was also the first individual to encourage my inclination to work with the military and veterans.
Tell me about something you did in class or on a project?
Many of our projects are group projects that help us learn to work on a team with others. In all settings, speech-language pathologists must work on interdisciplinary teams to best serve their client’s needs. One group project we did in our aphasia class was develop an innovative solution to an outstanding problem in the field. It was an interesting project because it allowed us to research the problem, find out what issues or barriers currently exist, what solutions currently exist and why they are not working, as well as use our creativity to help provide a solution.
What clubs, activities or hobbies do you have outside of the classroom?
I am the president of the National Student Speech-Language-Hearing Association (NSSLHA) at Georgia State. NSSLHA’s goal is to support undergraduate and graduate pre-professionals who are dedicated to serving individuals affected by speech, language, hearing, literacy and swallowing difficulties. We have one social, volunteer and fundraiser event per semester and also plan other professional activities, such as an annual career fair. I have been involved with the organization as an officer for three years now. A couple other students and myself were the first to push for undergraduate and post-baccalaureate inclusion in the organization three years ago. The organization now allows anyone who attends Georgia State University to become a member.
I am also a member of CommunicAid + Nation and I volunteer with the Brain Injury Association of Georgia. Every year the organization hosts a weekend camp at Camp Twin Lakes for adults with brain injuries and I volunteer there as a counselor.
I also enjoy horseback riding, reading, hiking and fishing.
What do you like best about attending a downtown university?
The best thing about attending a downtown university is the amount of opportunities that are available to you. From lunch choices to internship opportunities, the location affords a large selection of options that would not be available in other areas.
What has been your biggest challenge in your work as a student?
The biggest challenge as a graduate student is the amount of work and tasks that need to be accomplished in a short amount of time. Most students are juggling classes, clients, graduate research assistantships, and their everyday lives. It’s a lot to take on and staying organized and focused is crucial for success.
What has been your biggest accomplishment since you’ve been a student here?
My biggest accomplishment as a student at this university so far has been learning to successfully apply the information I learn in the classroom to help my clients. Every time we have a new client we must use the information we’ve learned in the classroom and from the evidence-base to find ways to help the client reach his or her goals and to support our intervention.
What is your favorite quote?
“The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.” —e.e. cummings