Peer Coach for Social Interaction Group Networking for All (SIGNA), UMD Hearing and Speech Clinic

Major: Hearing and Speech Sciences

Minor: Disability Studies Minor

Class Year: 2023

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What was a typical week like in your position?

In SIGNA, my team consisted of myself and four other Peer Coaches. As a Peer Coach, I planned weekly lessons to co-teach SIGNA members every Friday. These lesson topics consisted of finding a common interest, finding a source of friends, how to enter a group conversation, how to exit a group conversation, and many other social skills. Before teaching these lessons, I attended a one hour planning meeting with the SIGNA coordinator (a Speech Language Pathologist) to go over the outline and discuss different teaching strategies that would help deliver the material. All this was done alongside one other peer coach. 



What do you enjoy most about your current position?

The thing I enjoy most about being a Peer Coach is working with other UMD students and helping them grow in their social and self-advocacy skills and feel more comfortable with being neurodivergent in society. I aspire to be a Speech Pathologist for those with disabilities, so SIGNA was a great exposure for what I can look forward to in the future.



How did your coursework help you in your position?

My coursework has helped me with this position, as I am working with the population I intend to work with in the future. EDSP470 Introduction to Special Education has especially helped me understand and appreciate the background of people who are neurodivergent. I have learned how to interact with them and make them welcomed and heard during our sessions.



How did you locate your position?

I heard about this program through an email my major sent in a listserv email.



Advice for students:

My biggest tip is to search for internships that are tailored to the career you would like to have. For example, if you wish to work with adults you should find an internship at a nursing home not an elementary school. Another tip is to not be afraid to reach out to company's. If you are interested in a company and are not sure if they are accepting interns/applications, contact them. You will never know what you do not seek.



Anything else you want to share with students about your experience?

This experience is great for Psychology, Hearing and Speech or Education/Special Education majors.