Brianne Higgins Roos, M.S., CCC-SLP
Director, Post-Baccalaureate Foundation Program; Affiliate Faculty Member
Ms. Brianne Higgins Roos, M.S., CCC-SLP, Director for the Post-Baccalaureate Foundation Program and affiliate faculty member received both her B.A. and M.S. in Speech-Language Pathology from Loyola University Maryland. She has been with the Department of Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences for 8 years.
Where are you from?
Why did you choose to go to Loyola?
When I was looking at colleges, my list consisted of Catholic schools on the East Coast between D.C. and Boston. Loyola happened to be the first campus I visited, and I told my parents "this feels like home" as we walked across the quad. Little did I know Loyola would be my home for my undergraduate (’01), graduate (’04), and professional careers.
What did you plan to study at Loyola?
I entered Loyola as a biology major, anticipating a career as a physical therapist or physician assistant. Just a few weeks into bio, it was clear that I had not found my calling, and I switched to a Spanish major. I really liked Spanish, and having a declared major allowed me access to upper level courses right away, but I did not see an appealing career path in Spanish, so I knew it was a place-holder. I always like to have a plan, so changing majors twice and not knowing where I was headed was a new and uncomfortable position for me. However, I happened to be taking FE100, a freshman course designed to help first year students integrate into college life on campus and in Baltimore. At that time, the course was team-taught by two members of Loyola's faculty or staff and an upper level student. One of my teachers was Mary DeManss, a staff member from the Career Center (she is still changing lives at Loyola today!). She suggested I take a career test that asked all about my interests. My interests were then compared to the interests of professionals across a wide range of careers and it turned out speech pathology was a great match. I remember our meeting when she told me how lucky I was to be at Loyola because of our SLP program, and I registered for an introductory course in the spring of my freshman year.
When did you realize your passion for speech-language pathology?
Dr. Janet Preis taught my first course at Loyola, and I knew as the course unfolded that I found my place and passion. I loved the variety of the content in the intro course, and the rest of the SLP/A curriculum. I couldn't believe courses like Anatomy & Physiology, Linguistics, Speech & Voice Science, and Speech & Language Development were all in one major. I loved taking A&P and working on public speaking for Voice & Diction class at the same time. The class content and career opportunities were appealing to me and the faculty brought it all to life.
Did any Loyola professor/supervisor have a lasting impact on you and why?
Most of the influential professors and supervisors I had at Loyola are now my colleagues! Dr. Janet Preis introduced me to the field with her unique and wonderful blend of knowledge, humor, and candor. It's a privilege to be the first teacher within a student's potential career, and I strive to share the same enthusiasm and passion that Dr. Preis did for me. Prof. Lura Vogelman taught me Anatomy & Physiology, and although I wasn't sure I would survive because I had never learned so many flash cards in my life, she brought the course and the material to life and I was captivated and inspired to pursue the adult medical side of speech pathology as a clinical career. Dr. Lisa Schoenbrodt taught me how to write in Professional & Technical Writing, and I responded well to her engaging and direct teaching style. I went on to be her graduate assistant, and recently wrote a chapter in a textbook for her, so she is still refining my writing! Drs. Ward & Pitts taught me all about hearing, and we continue to joke about my weak stomach for the ear. I try to emulate their patience in my teaching. Dr. Marie Kerins taught me Research Methods in graduate school, and she encouraged me to push beyond class and do a poster presentation at a conference and to submit for publication. She is in Loyola's administration now, and she continues to encourage me to grow professionally.
What do you love most about the field?
The best part about our field is having the knowledge and skills to empower other people. We work with people across the lifespan, from premature babies in the NICU to the geriatric population, and everyone in between. We empower babies, children and adults to eat safely and to communicate effectively. We work in schools, hospitals, clinics, private practices and home health. The variety in our field is unparalleled, and we have the flexibility to explore different areas across our careers. I did not anticipate a career in higher education, but I get a tremendous amount of satisfaction from empowering students with the coursework and life skills they need to pursue their own careers in speech-language-hearing sciences.
How did you find your way ‘home’ to Loyola?
When I finished graduate school and began my career in medical SLP at the University of Maryland Medical Center, including rotations at the R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center, I stayed in touch with my Loyola professors. I was invited to guest lecture at Loyola a few times each year, and I was energized by the students during the lectures. I also enjoyed having students with me at the hospital, and I looked forward teaching them about the workings of a hospital, our place within the system, and specific diseases processes for patient care. One day I received an email from Dr. Preis and the subject line was "Teach for us?" She invited me to consider a per-course position. I accepted, and the rest is history.
What are your current (and past) roles within the Department?
I moved from a per-course instructor teaching one class per semester to a full-time position teaching four courses per semester several years ago. I am the director of the Post-Baccalaureate Program, I serve as an undergraduate academic advisor, and am the Undergraduate Academic Standards Coordinator. I am on the Writing Committee, the Curriculum Committee, and I mentor three peer faculty members in teaching.
What is your favorite/most challenging/rewarding part of the job?
The best part of the job is workng with my students and colleagues at Loyola. The people and place still feel like home to me, and I sincerely love going to work. There are so many rewarding parts of being in an academic setting. Seeing students learn and understand in class or get excited about observation experiences is always gratifying, and their enthusiasm is contagious. Having students drop into my office to share something great about their lives, whether related to academics or not, is the best. Teaching and meeting with my advisees and watching them grow from timid first year students to confident and capable seniors has been a gift, and while I wish them the very best after graduation, I will have to wear waterproof mascara that day when they’re in caps and gowns. I hate to see them go!
How have things changed since you were an undergrad/grad?
The best parts of Loyola and our Department have not changed since I was a student. Attentive faculty, engaging classes, and a student-focused, tightknit department within a great University are the constants. Facilities, curriculum, technology, and pedagogy continue to evolve to provide the best education for our students.
What advice would you give someone interested in studying SLP/interested in Loyola?
Take an introductory course and try it out! If it’s the right fit, you will find a supportive, challenging and engaging curriculum taught by faculty who want to inspire you to be your best. If it’s not the right fit, you will not feel pressure to stay. I had a very strong student whose passion was philosophy, and I encouraged her to pursue her interests, even though she was bright and motivated and a great addition to my classes. Our students are excited to be part of our major and they are motivated to get into graduate school and pursue careers in our field.
What Loyola tradition/value is your favorite and why?
I have always been inspired by Loyola’s Jesuit history and traditions. I try to share things like “cura personalis,” care for the whole person, in real and practical ways in my classes. Most Loyola students know the motto, but I challenge my students to think about how to apply the meaning of the motto to their lives and to future clinical work. For example, we talk a lot about campus life in my classes. Students’ lives outside of the classroom are important parts of their college careers, so we talk about athletics competitions, dance teams, musical productions, campus ministry activities, volunteer opportunities, and upcoming club meetings in class. I care for the whole student, not just the academic part of their lives. As students progress through the curriculum, I focus on how to think about future patients as whole people as well. The students are challenged to consider a patient who had a stroke from many different angles: the neuroanatomy & physiology of the infarct, what that means for speech, language and cognition, how deficits in those skills will impact the patient’s daily life, and about the patient’s family and support system.
What do you like to do when you’re not teaching?
I am married and have two daughters, Deirdre (9) and Bridget (7). They keep us busy with soccer, basketball, lacrosse, Irish dancing and activities at their school. They are avid Greyhounds fans, and we go to many Lady Hounds games. We also go to mass at the Loyola chapel on Sunday evenings. The girls feel like they are part of the Loyola community and it’s always fun to bring them to campus.
Do you have a favorite book, movie, or quote?
One of my favorite recent books is The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown. As a college rower myself, it resonated with me from athletic perspective, and the bigger picture cura personalis as well. Check it out!
Fr. Tim Brown, a trusted Loyola mentor for many years, gave me this quote when I was a senior at Loyola. As I was I making the decision to take the “year off” and join Mercy Volunteer Corps for a year between undergrad and graduate school, to live and serve on the Navajo Nation Indian Reservation in Arizona, Fr. Brown gave me this:
Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.
Talent will not; nothing is more common that unsuccessful men with talent.
Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.
Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.
Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.
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