The saying “Experience is the best teacher,” rings true for Samantha Walker, M.S., Speech-Language Pathology (SLP) Class of 2019 in the School of Health Sciences and Practice at New York Medical College (NYMC). She uses her experience as the foundation on which she has built a brand with more than 52,000 Instagram followers. Inspired by her own journey of becoming a speech-language pathologist, Walker created Speaking of Samantics, a platform dedicated to helping members of the SLP community. From the application process, to landing a job after graduation and everything in between, Walker shares insight about the highs and lows speech-language pathologists encounter throughout their educational and professional endeavors.
Applying to graduate school is stressful. With what she describes as a “less than ideal” undergraduate GPA and GRE score, Walker knew she had to rely heavily on her experience in early intervention, as well as her personal essay, to market herself to potential master’s programs in SLP. In her application essay, she wrote about her mom who had been placed in a medically induced coma in 2015 after complications from kidney stones. Speech-language pathologists played a major role in her mom’s physical and mental recovery. Walker was an undergraduate SLP student at Brooklyn College at the time and vowed to become a more compassionate SLP if given the chance. That chance was awarded after she was accepted into the SLP program at NYMC.
As an NYMC student, Walker began searching for a creative outlet so she started designing SLP themed t-shirts. Once those started gaining popularity, she added stickers to her e-commerce site. The stickers were a hit too, so she added more apparel that included atypical, SLP-inspired phrases that resonated with the graduate student population. The reception from students opened Walker’s eyes to a niche market. “Most Instagram pages for speech-language pathologists are for licensed speech-language pathologists. Why are we not helping our graduate students get through school? It’s a hard two years,” she said. Walker then decided to share her own grad school experiences on her website and the feedback was overwhelming.
Transparency is a pillar of Walker’s brand. When it came to establishing its identity in the early stages, she figured honesty was the best policy. She recalled thinking, “I have an opportunity to reach a lot of people. Why don’t I just be myself?” She said if at least one person is impacted by her experiences, then she has done her job correctly.
In three years, Speaking of Samantics became a hub for SLP graduate students from all over the country that includes merchandise, blogs and a podcast hosted by Walker. One feature on Speakingofsamantics.com that Walker is particularly proud of is the SLP Praxis exam prep course she offers. The course is a game-based model, hosted by Walker every Tuesday from September through May, where people who are preparing for the Praxis exam can join virtually and participate in trivia games with questions they can expect to see on the exam. “I wanted to help students who have a hard time studying for tests in the traditional sense,” she said. Walker has curated a lighthearted environment during these test preparations, allowing students to be at ease during an otherwise stressful time in their lives.
Samantha’s journey is one of the many success stories to come out of NYMC. To learn more about the speech-language pathology program, please contact the admissions office at email@example.com