Bronco Spotlight: Miriam Carroll-Alfano

Bronco Spotlight: Miriam Carroll-Alfano

Ph.D. in interdisciplinary health sciences, 2018

Current Job Title:

Assistant Professor

Current Employer:

Saint Xavier University

Describe your current job:

I am a faculty member in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Saint Xavier University in Chicago, IL. I am a speech-language pathologist, teacher, and researcher. I treat adult clients in the university clinic with neurogenic communication disorders resulting from strokes, traumatic brain injuries, and neurological disorders. I also work with clients with head and neck cancers. I teach courses in the Graduate Program in Speech-Language Pathology, and my research interests include the communication disorders I treat in the clinic. 

What is the most rewarding and the most challenging part of your job?

The most rewarding part of my job is that I get to be a clinician, teacher, and researcher. At some universities, faculty who teach or do research don't get to also be clinicians. I get to treat clients in the clinic, and this helps me to be a better teacher and researcher. The most challenging part of my job is keeping current on new research that gets published weekly. I have to keep up with the literature in order to provide my clients the best evidence-based treatments. I also need to keep current in the literature for teaching and research. I keep articles with me all the time, so when I have a few spare minutes I can catch up on what's current.

Which of your skills had the biggest impact on your success?

Working in a field focused on communication, good verbal and written communication are important skills that I have learned, and they helped me to be successful in my career. For verbal communication, it is important to be a good listener, as much as it is to be good at talking. I have learned to be patient and listen to what my communication partners have to say. Being able to verbally explain information to different audiences has been important. If I am working with professionals, I have to explain information one way. If I am working with patients and family members, I may have to explain the same information a different way.  Written communication is also important. Working on writing skills in a variety of classes during college can prepare you for professional writing, no matter what your career in the future. When writing, I have found it useful to go back and re-read and edit my work. This helps me to find mistakes, but I also get inspired and come up with new ideas or information to add to what I have written.

What advice would you offer students to help them decide on a career path?

Some students know their career path from a young age and follow it all the way through.  Others are less certain about what they want to do. I was one of those uncertain students. I got my bachelor's degree, but didn't have a clear path. I worked for a couple of years and met with a career counselor. He introduced me to Speech-Language Pathology. I earned my master's degree, and eventually got my Ph.D. It is important to be persistent and find something you like to do. Use all of the resources that are available, such as career counseling. Talk to people in different careers. There is usually a career out there for everyone, you just have to find it.

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