Ready to Explore a Career in Human Connection

Shaelee Peterman
Photo by Grant Maxfield, CLA student.

Undergraduate student Shaelee Peterman has big hopes for her time at the University of Minnesota. When Peterman began as a freshman, she had not yet selected an area of study and was drawn to the University of Minnesota because of its extensive learning opportunities as well as its proximity to her family in nearby Blaine.

“I came in undecided,” recalls Peterman. “I wanted to go to a big school that had tons of different options and tons of different career paths so I could figure it out along the way.”

Now, as a junior, Peterman has declared majors in both speech-language-hearing sciences and English. This combination of programs grants her the flexibility to explore humanities, communications, and sciences in addition to setting her up for her dream career in either audiology or speech pathology.

An Opportunity in Audiology

Recently, Peterman took a big step towards her career goals by landing a job as an audiology assistant at Children’s Minnesota Hospital. She will begin working primarily at the Minneapolis location in May, and continue through the 2022–23 academic year.

Children’s Minnesota is a nationally-ranked health care system that exclusively cares for children. When Peterman came across the audiology assistant job posting on LinkedIn, it immediately called her name. With its entry-level responsibilities, she hopes that the position will build her professional skills and help her decide what field she wants to enter after graduation.

“My dream job is to either be a speech pathologist or an audiologist,” says Peterman. “I'm hoping to gain some real-world experience in these fields before I decide which one to go into, so I am anticipating that this job as an audiology assistant will be pivotal in my decision.”

As an audiology assistant, Peterman will learn a wide range of skills. At the beginning, she will mostly assist with administrative work such as maintaining clinical records, doing equipment inventory, and performing insurance-related tasks. After completing training, Peterman will be able to assist audiologists with direct patient care.

Finding Her Place in CLA

For someone like Peterman who is interested in everything from literature to art to science, CLA is home. She appreciates that liberal arts students get extra opportunities to become well-rounded individuals by exploring many different topics and perspectives. She explains that while studying in CLA, “you get to build yourself instead of just your brain.”

In the classroom, Peterman likes that she gets to focus on creativity and a diverse range of subjects. “A lot of the liberal arts education is pulling from all different aspects of learning,” she says, meaning that CLA students can build multiple skills rather than honing in on one.

Her academic work is just the beginning: Peterman has also gained invaluable real-world experience that led to her new job at the Children’s Hospital and encouraged her to continue doing what she loves.

“I've had internships and jobs through CLA, taken courses I never would've imagined I'd take, joined clubs and extracurriculars, and met so many people who have helped me along the way,” she says.

Peterman currently holds an office job at the Julia M. Davis Speech-Language-Hearing Science Clinic and has an internship with CLA’s Office of Institutional Advancement, where she writes stories as a content creator. Both of these experiences help her gain new knowledge and give her the confidence she needs to continue putting herself out there.

“I feel confident that I can succeed in the places I want to go, and I think that is due to the education and the people here in CLA,” says Peterman.

Connecting Through Communication

Being a strong communicator is essential in every corner of Peterman’s life. Both the SLHS major and the English major teach students like Peterman important skills such as strong written, verbal, and interpersonal communication. Now, with her upcoming audiology job, she gets to put those skills to the test.

Peterman is also dedicated to her commitments outside of class and work, including the National Speech Language Hearing Science Student Association and a painting club called Beginners with Brushes. In addition to exploring her interests, these opportunities allow her to meet new people and form networks.

Going forward, Peterman hopes to use her education to make a difference. No matter where she ends up, the communication skills she is learning in CLA will encourage both success and connection.

“Human communication is such a fundamental part of our lives,” Peterman explains. “I hope to make a positive impact in the lives of others someday by helping them achieve their speech or hearing goals, so that they can effectively and confidently communicate with those around them.”

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