In the field of Communication Science and Disorders, a graduate degree is necessary to practice as a Speech Language Pathologist. When Joannie Descardes came to Florida State pursuing her Bachelor’s in Communication Science and Disorders, a Master’s degree was always on her horizon.
During her undergraduate career, Joannie wasted no time getting involved. In 2012, she began volunteering at the Tallahassee Memorial Rehabilitation Clinic (TMRC). Each week, Joannie worked with people receiving physical, occupational and speech therapies in both inpatient and outpatient atmospheres.
Not surprisingly, speech therapy was her favorite. Joannie also got involved with the Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare (TMH) Stroke Wellness Group, which allowed her to engage with survivors of traumatic brain injuries and strokes. The group allowed survivors and caregivers learn about continuing a healthy lifestyle and to create a solid, local support system.
“I am so fortunate to get shadow and clinically observe all the wonderful speech language pathologists in the outpatient unit,” she said. “Being exposed to that one-on-one patient interaction in the medical setting confirmed that this is what I want to do in life!”
During her senior year, Joannie was a constant smile behind the desk at the College of Communication and Information Advising Office. Applications to graduate programs went out and Joannie felt optimistic about her future in speech pathology. When she was wait-listed and later denied from several programs, it was a blow to her self confidence.
“I started to re-evaluate my life’s plan and even questioned if being a speech-language clinician was for me,” she admitted.
Still, Joannie returned to TMRC and worked with patients each week. Whether it was a teenager who was in a car accident or an elderly dysphasic patient, they confirmed what Joannie always knew – her passion was in communication disorders.
Years of volunteering and clinical experience brought a different opportunity her way – Joannie has accepted a full time position as a Rehabilitation Technician for the Medical Neurological Outpatient Unit at TMH. The Seminole sport lover is excited to start a new chapter in Tallahassee, working with speech, physical and occupational therapists to help patients.
“It’s crazy to think I went from feeling defeated to being on top of the world,” she said. “I now understand that everything happens for a reason. I’m blessed beyond words.”
Joannie plans to revisit graduate school options next year. She says students should never give up on something they are passionate about because things didn’t go their way the first time. Perseverance, she says, is key.