Portrait of Sara Silver

Sarah Silver: Speaking up for Detroit

As Sarah Silver was wrapping up her bachelor’s in East Lansing, she had her eye on heading out of state for her communication sciences and disorders graduate degree. She was accepted by two of her top choices but opted to stay in Michigan after realizing her best choice was just a short drive from home.

“Wayne State offered me a clinical experience I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere else,” says the Michigan State and Birmingham Groves graduate. “Having the opportunity to work with a diverse population of patients in Detroit was a huge selling point.”

Silver says that the camaraderie at WSU also impressed her, as did the fact that she would begin her clinical rotations — in schools, hospitals, clinics, rehabilitation centers, and private practices — within her first few weeks on campus versus starting in the second semester, as was the case at other universities she’d considered.

“We offer students a challenging and varied clinical program,” says Karen S. O’Leary, director of Wayne State’s Speech and Language Center and clinical coordinator for Speech-Language Pathology. “Sarah made the most of each clinical placement, which enabled her to grow personally and professionally. She was an ideal student, and we expect her to do great work as she begins her career as a speech-language pathologist.”

Silver, who graduated from WSU this in the spring of 2015, says that one of her standout rotations was working within Detroit’s Head Start program. “In addition to handling the standard caseload, we did literacy activities with the entire class,” she recalls, adding that having program advisors present to monitor and mentor was key.

“Supervision in a clinical setting is important because once you’re unleashed into the real world, you can rely on that experience to know how best to respond in a range of circumstances.”

Among the reasons Wayne State’s Communication Sciences and Disorders department is highly respected within the field is it's community outreach. For example, its Audiology Clinic provides free services to local families who might not otherwise be able to afford expert care, and the Speech Therapy and Education Program for Stroke Survivors (STEPSS) offers very low-cost care to patients who may have long ago exhausted their insurance for rehabilitation.

“There are seniors who have been coming to STEPSS for years, participating in social groups based on their level of function,” Silver says, adding that after a stroke or head injury, patients have varying levels of speech, language and cognitive-communication issues that can be helped through fun activities such as collaborating to follow a recipe or group games.

Silver says that one of the first messages she received as a WSU graduate student was that she and her fellow students would need to rely on one another. Despite commuting from her parents’ house, she quickly felt at home in Midtown, checking out new restaurants and entertainment venues with her program cohort.

She turned to Hillel of Metro Detroit, an organization headquartered at Wayne State for Jewish college students and young adults, for recreation and connection as well. “I was on the board for Jewish in the D, helping to plan cool events that encouraged students to explore the city and our heritage here,” she says. “We went a lot of places I’d never been before, and learned to appreciate the city together.”