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Students discuss cancelled field placements, internships, research

| Wednesday, April 15, 2020

In the wake of campus closure due to the coronavirus, many Saint Mary’s students have lost access to both research opportunities, and the ability to finish field work placements required to complete their majors.

Senior social work major Marie Burke was placed at South Bend’s Riley High School, assisting the school’s social worker twice a week before the College closed. At first, she was told she could return to Riley when Saint Mary’s planned to resume face-to-face classes on April 13.

Burke said in an email, “Once Saint Mary’s and other surrounding schools had closed, I had a hunch Riley would close as well… As time went on, Riley closed, so I could not have returned to my internship anyway. Soon enough, on March 19th, I along with the rest of the Saint Mary’s community received the email that classes would remain online through the end of the semester. This is when I knew that I unfortunately would not be going back to Riley for my internship.”

Burke is disappointed that she cannot keep working with her students at Riley but is making up her field hours in other ways to graduate on time.

“While I am disheartened knowing that I will not be able to have closure with the students I worked with, luckily the cancellation will not affect my graduation,” said Burke. “My field instructor, professors and classmates have been really great about assisting each of us in finding webinars, readings, films and other resources to help us to accomplish our field work and reach our required amount of hours.”

Junior Mackenzie Kersten, her professor and three other Speech Language Pathology students planned to present at the Indiana Speech and Hearing Association Conference the findings of their research on April 3. The group’s research project focused on comparing assistive listening devices — Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana and Google Assistant — how these devices measured different vocal frequencies and whether these devices could recognize the frequencies of those with speech disorders.

The Indiana Speech and Hearing Association Conference created a virtual conference. However, Kersten and her research group could not finish their research because of lack of access to necessary technology.

“The conference planned to do an online presentation. Sadly, we were unable to complete our research because we could not be together to test the devices as well as use the necessary software to measure the frequencies,” Kersten said.

As a senior herself, Burke is concerned about finding a job after graduation. However, she knows that her time in the field has reinforced her passion about her career.

“Like others, I know that I will have difficulty searching for jobs at this time, but I am trying to remain positive knowing that after a time of much adjustment social workers will be needed more than ever,” she said. “I am grateful that I was able to work at Riley High School for the time that I did, and I feel that my experience at Riley have strengthened my desire to continue in the field of Social Work.”

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About Genevieve Coleman

Genevieve Coleman is a junior at Saint Mary's majoring in English literature and secondary education with minors in theatre and creative writing. She currently serves as Saint Mary's News Editor.

Contact Genevieve