Embracing cultural diversity
Graduate Profile: Carolina Serrato
Since she was a freshman, Carolina Serrato, who's graduating with her master's degree in Communications Disorder, always valued the way GSU embraced cultural diversity.
As she heads toward a career in speech pathology post-graduation, she'll lean on that value to serve those in need.
GSU Newsroom: What conversation(s) that started at GSU will you continue into your workplace?
Serrato: The importance of embracing cultural diversity is a topic that has been implemented in campus events I have attended and in my coursework. As a speech-language pathologist, it will be my job to take into consideration a client’s cultural background, values, family dynamics, beliefs, and the languages they speak at home in order to best meet their language and speech needs.
GSU Newsroom: What does being a Jaguar mean to you?
Serrato: To me, being a Jaguar means having a community you can rely on, including your professors, peers, staff, and the surrounding communities. These connections you make also give you an abundance of opportunities. I started my journey as a freshman at GSU and appreciated the community that I became a part of so much that I decided to pursue my master’s degree at GSU.
GSU Newsroom: What are your top two experiences (or professors) at GSU and why?
Serrato: One of my top experiences occurred during my freshman year when I went on a service learning trip to Puerto Rico. It was an amazing opportunity to serve the local community in Puerto Rico by working with children from the Boys and Girls Club and also making a positive environmental impact by planting trees and cleaning litter from a nearby forest preserve.
I have also enjoyed completing my three practicum placements, which are full-time learning experiences where I gradually took over the responsibilities of a speech-language pathologist under guided supervision. I gained experience working in a clinic with children with disabilities and language and speech disorders, working in a hospital with medically fragile patients with dementia and swallowing disorders, and working with students in a public school setting with disabilities, language, speech, and stuttering disorders.
GSU Newsroom: What were some challenges at GSU and how did the university help you to overcome them?
Serrato: Like many students, I have faced financial challenges. I am grateful that I received a number of foundation scholarships throughout both my undergraduate and graduate journey. Additionally, for the first two years of my graduate program, I worked as a Graduate Assistant for Student Disabilities Services and the Academic Resource Center, which provided a partial tuition waiver and a monthly stipend. My Graduate Assistantship also helped me gain experience learning how to manage a classroom where I taught freshman on academic probation and learned about challenges students with disabilities may encounter.
GSU Newsroom: How did GSU prepare you for working in the post-Covid world?
Serrato: GSU prepared me for working in the post-Covid world by teaching me the importance of flexibility and giving myself grace. My professors have emphasized to us that it’s important to recognize that nobody is perfect and burn out can happen if we’re constantly working and not taking care of ourselves, which is something that the pandemic has brought to life.
GSU Newsroom: What’s next after graduation?
Serrato: After graduation, I will be working as a speech-language pathologist and complete a “Clinical Fellowship.” Currently, I am still undecided about which setting I would like to pursue because I enjoyed the fast pace of the hospital setting but also found it rewarding to work with children in the clinic and school. However, a major benefit of my field is that you can switch settings and are not “stuck” in the first setting you choose to work in.