Each week in 2019, we're highlighting someone in the College of Public Health—students, alumni, researchers and beyond—for a feature we're calling Public Health in Focus. Click the photo for a portrait of Sonali Shah, a student in the Master of Arts in Speech-Language Hearing program, or read on for the full interview.
Q: What’s your area of interest within speech-language-hearing?
A: The nice thing about the speech-language-hearing grad program at Temple is that you learn a little bit of everything. My first year was taking classes in the different domains—you can work with kids or adults, anyone from a child having an articulation problem to a stroke patient to a someone who just came out of a coma. Right now, I’m at Moss Rehab in North Philly working with adults who, for the most part, have had traumatic brain injuries.
Q: What has that experience been like?
A: I really love it. I wasn’t really sure that I would be interested in working with adults when I first came into the program, but I started working at Moss in August and it’s been a really amazing experience. The clients are wonderful and sweet and very supportive. They know that I’m a student, but they’re willing to work with me
Q: What initially drew you to this field of study?
A: I was undeclared my first year as an undergraduate at Temple. I ended up taking a bunch of intro classes in subjects like psychology and chemistry, and I didn’t really feel any specific way about any of them. But then I took a linguistics class, and it was challenging and interesting and so I wanted to stick with that area of study.
Linguistics is the study of language, and there are two different ways you can go with it. You can teach about language or teach English, or there’s the speech-language-hearing pathway of becoming a speech therapist. Applying the study of language was more appealing to me, so I started taking those classes, and I’ve continued to enjoy doing them from my sophomore year up until now.
Q: What is it about Temple that initially drew you here, and what is it you’ve enjoyed since starting here?
A: The neighborhood I grew up in was not very diverse. I was one of the only people of color, which was a little bit alienating because I just didn’t see a lot of people who were like me—especially people who were children of immigrants. I loved the idea that Temple is really diverse, that it’s in a city where you’ll see all different types of people.
I joined an Indian dance team my first year, and I made a ton of friends with other Indian girls. I’ve never had that experience. The team is called Temple Agni, named for the fire deity in the Hindu religion. It’s a competitive all-girls dance team, and we did a combination of Bollywood and classical, contemporary and hip-hop. I did two years of it and then started switching gears and focusing on school more, but I’m such a big fan, and I still love to dance.
Sonali Shah completed her Bachelor of Arts in Speech-Language-Hearing in 2017. She is now in her second year in the Master of Arts in Speech-Language-Hearing program. Check out all of the Public Health in Focus portraits so far.