Sunday, May 10, 2015

Proud to be a UH Alum

I moved to Houston to work as a speech therapist in the Houston Independent School District.  Then I got married, and like most young women of my generation, quit my job to be a stay-at-home wife. Still I thought I might while away the time until I had the requisite two children by getting a Master's degree.  I visited the University of Houston to find out about their program and decided, like any good University of Texas snob, that the program was not for me.  UH, then condescendingly known as Cougar High ( their mascot is a cougar), was an undistinguished commuter school, not known for much of anything.

Eventually, after a divorce, I did attend the UH Communication Disorders program.  The clinic and offices were located in a small wooden frame building known as The Woods.  It took up one side of the building; the other housed a hamburger joint with better food than the main cafeteria.  The campus wasn't much different from what Ihad seen eight years earlier.  The communication disorders program was small but easily as good as the one at UT Austin.  I enjoyed the camaraderie of the students, the thrill of learning new things, and rejoiced the UH now was known for "something."  We had an outstanding basketball team--Hakeem Olijawon and Clyde Drexler were the stars.  The team, affectionately known to students as Phi Slama Jama made the NCAA finals. 

Later, when I became a board member, and then president, of Communication Disorders Alumni Association, I could see changes.  There were new building, including an Alumni Center, new sculpture on the campus, a nice dining room in the Student Center run by the students in the hotel management program, and some scientific research that was nationally recognized.

I hadn't been on campus much in the past few years but yesterday I attended a Hot Topics workshop given by the now Communication Sciences and Disorders program, and I was amazed at the changes.  New buildings, a new stadium,
new excitement, students who actually live on campus, and a national reputation for both research and teaching.

The department, which had about six professors when I was a student, now has 14 full time academic and clinical professors and it's still growing.  The admission process is far more selective, admitting only 19% of applicants (although I'm pretty sure I could still get in).  The average GPA in courses in their major is 3.92 and the overall GPA is 3.7.  100% of the graduate students pass the national exam for speech pathology and audiology on their first try.  There are externships, specialty tracks, even the only speech pathology assistant program in the state.  The COMD alumni program, which fizzled out a year or so after I finished my presidency, has resurrected itself and is moving ahead enthusiastically. 

I left the workshop with a feeling of pride and excitement.  I can't wait to see where COMD and UH go next. 

Go Coogs!



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