Jaime Purnot ’19 is one step closer to becoming a speech language pathologist after completing her bachelor’s degree online through Elms.

“Courage to Take the Leap”

Hitting the books to complete your degree isn’t always an easy decision, especially when you have had as exciting a life as Jaime Purnot ’19. Before coming to Elms, Jaime lived abroad in Australia for nearly two decades. She had a successful career as a freelance writer, and even worked as a licensed aesthetician. When she became a mother, she loved every minute of being a stay-at-home mom to her son and daughter.

Like many parents, Jaime always planned on going back to school once her kids were older. When she learned that her son needed speech therapy as a toddler, she felt the scales of a career change finally begin to tip.

Photo of a student on the quad
Jaime graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor of arts degree in speech-language pathology assistant (SLPA).

For four years, Jaime practiced speech exercises with her son at home every day, meeting regularly with a speech therapist to monitor their progress. After six months, she knew that speech language pathology (SLP) was her calling.

“First and foremost, I love helping people and making a difference in their lives,” said the Ashland, OR, native. “But I also enjoy the science behind SLP, and its therapeutic aspects.”

“The opportunity to advance my education required courage to take the leap,” she added.

Ashland to Chicopee

Living in the Pacific Northwest has its perks. As a resident of Ashland, Jaime grew up amidst breathtaking scenery (Crater Lake National Park being only two hours away) and thriving cultural centers (her hometown hosts a renowned Shakespeare festival). When it came to finding a local college that offered flexible options for completing a bachelor’s in speech language pathology assistant (SLPA) degrees, however, Jaime was at a loss.

Enter Elms College. After researching online programs that offered SLPA tracks, Jaime knew Elms was the right fit.

“The online experience for me at Elms was fantastic,” she said. “The format fit with my life and needs perfectly, in that I could attend live classes in the early evening and complete my studies in the time I had available.”

Photo of a student at commencement
Looking ahead, Jaime plans on working with adult speech therapy patients in a medical setting.

Burning the midnight oil didn’t deter Jaime. Having responsive professors gave her a reliable, coast-to-coast network of support.

“It required immense commitment, hard work, focus, and taking responsibility for myself and my own success,” she said. “But I knew that I was achieving my goal.”

To enhance her online learning, Jaime also completed a clinical practicum experience at an outpatient and inpatient rehabilitation center in a nearby town. By the time she was working with actual clients, her decision to pursue her master’s degree was reinforced.

“I left my practicum days feeling not exhausted, but exhilarated,” she said. 

“I worked with adults during my practicum, and when they left therapy sessions with a genuine smile on their face, I couldn’t help but feel that I was making some small difference in their lives.”

As she transitions to graduate school, Jaime is one step closer to becoming a licensed speech-language pathologist. Her vision for her future is guided by a commitment to positively influencing her clients.

“Being a great SLP doesn’t require perfection, but a dedication to doing your best and making meaningful connections to bring joy to everyone’s lives,” she said.