From High School to Grad School
It’s a good thing they like each other.
When communication sciences and disorders (CSD) majors Katherine Belliveau ’14 and Tracey Aloisio ’14 graduate from the doctor of audiology program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2018, they will have spent the better part of the last 12 years at the same school.
The Monson natives’ paths parted slightly when Katherine, a year older than Tracey, graduated from Monson High School and started taking courses at Holyoke Community College. Katherine considered a career in nursing but had a change of heart when her grandmother suffered a stroke.
“I would visit her in the nursing home and see her eyes light up when I walked in but she just couldn’t communicate with me. She never spoke again after the stroke. That experience made me want to help people like her,” Katherine said.
Katherine transferred to Elms College as a CSD major alongside Tracey and took an introduction to audiology course which made her consider a future in the science of hearing.
“I work in the dementia unit at a senior living facility where I’ve worked with a lot of people with hearing loss. I love my job and working with the elderly, which is a big part of the population I’ll be working with in audiology,” she said.
Like Katherine, Tracey worked at a nursing home, which is where she first learned about communication disorders while speaking to a speech pathologist working there. And like Katherine, Tracey was drawn to audiology after taking some courses in that concentration her junior year.
“I’m doing my practicum in a school and I like working with kids but I feel like speech is too broad. I’m more of a black-and-white learner. I like definitive answers,” Tracey said.
Practice Makes Perfect
Katherine and Tracey agree that it was Elms’ intensive practicum and observation requirements that helped distinguish them from other applicants to the University of Massachusetts audiology program.
“The 50 hours of observation has to be done at five different sites. It gives us such a variety of opportunities to narrow in on what we like. I was able to observe an audiologist in a private practice as well as a hospital setting,” Tracey said.
Katherine graduated with a 4.0 grade point average and won the Peter Stanton James Memorial Award at Honors Convocation. Tracey was class president, vice president of social affairs on the executive board of student government, served on the senior giving committee, and was the student representative on the NEASC committee. Both students are members of the Elms College chapter of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association.