Loyola University Maryland

Department of Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences

Spotlight On...

For the start of the fall semester, we are Spotlighting current 2nd Year Students.

Mero Kitila, Class of 2017


I was born in DC and grew up in Burtonsville, MD. Fun fact: my first language was not English. My parents purposefully spoke Afaan Oromo (my parents’ native language) with me at home, so I didn’t know much English until I started Primary at Evergreen Montessori when I was 3 years old.

Undergraduate academic career

I got my undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. I completed my foundational coursework at Loyola.  

Loyola campus/community involvement

I was a graduate assistant for Dr. Janet Preis, the amazing director of our graduate program, during the 2015-16 academic year. I worked with her on her research involving emotion-learning and music in children with autism. Thanks to my summer externship supervisor, Denise Epps, I also got to work on research involving dysphagia in people with ALS. I completed an externship at UMMC Midtown this summer, and will be at the DC VA Medical Center in the spring. Outside of SLP, I am actively involved with the Oromo community.  

How did you become interested in SLP?

I’m pretty sure I first found out about SLP online, and I was immediately intrigued. My university didn’t have an SLP program, so I did a lot of independent research into it. I observed and read, and found that this career was the perfect combination of my interests in language, education, and working with people.

How has Loyola’s graduate program shaped you?

Loyola’s graduate program has allowed/forced me to become a more confident clinician, while validating that increase in confidence with a solid foundation of knowledge to prepare me for meaningful clinical work. Most of all, Loyola’s focus on the whole person (cura personalis!) has been so thoroughly represented throughout the program that it has really influenced the way that I view and provide treatment to my clients/patients.  

What Loyola professor/supervisor has had the greatest impact on you and why? 

I am lucky to have had several highly impactful professors/supervisors throughout my time at Loyola. My first semester in clinic, I was fortunate to have been supervised by Tom Thompson. With his supervision I was challenged and learned so much, not only in terms of clinical skills, but about myself as a clinician. The lessons I learned working with him have stayed with me throughout my clinical experiences, and I look forward to benefitting from that guidance throughout my career. Lauren Dorris, with whom I had the pleasure of working in my second semester, has taught me so much about conscientiousness, tact, and solid clinical judgment. I aim to emulate even a portion of her expertise, kindness, and professionalism in my own work. Academically, the incredibly knowledgeable and talented Brianne Higgins Roos first piqued my interest in the medical side of SLP in my Anatomy & Physiology course in Foundations. I have also, without a doubt, been greatly impacted by Andrea Atticks. Even within the classroom setting I have managed to learn so much from her about clinical style, and have benefitted immensely from her thoughtfulness toward her students and the field. Both Andrea and Brianne challenge their students to think independently and critically, and they go above and beyond to provide the most pertinent and practical information to help their students become the best clinicians possible. These faculty members have really fueled my passion for this field, and I am grateful for their mentorship. Thank you all so much.  

What advice would you give someone interested in pursuing a major or master’s in SLP?

Do as much observation of different SLPs as you can, and observe in a variety of settings. Each facility and clinician is different, and there is something to be learned from each. Keep an open mind, ask questions, and see what’s out there!  

Do you have any plans after graduation?

I hope to start my career working with adults in a medical setting.  


Shout out to my awesome Foundations professor, Rae Meneses, who encouraged me to apply to the Master’s program when I did, and to all of the other professors/supervisors from whom I have learned so much. And to all of the friends I’ve made at Loyola, thank you for the support, the advice, and the laughs. You are all going to make fantastic SLPs. Until then, I look forward to spending many more Mondays with you all :)


Jena Filler, Class of 2017


Frederick, MD.

Undergraduate academic career 

University of Maryland, College Park, Early Childhood Education (Infants and Toddlers to 3rd grade), Minor in Hearing and Speech Sciences (Covered most prerequisites)

How did you become interested in SLP?

Growing up I knew I always wanted to work with children. In High School, I interned at an elementary school and taught swimming lessons. It was these experiences that led me to UMD to pursue an education degree. During my undergraduate experience, I thought for sure that I wanted to be a classroom teacher. My goal was to teach first grade. Although I had many education classes, I decided to take a few hearing and speech classes as electives. I thoroughly enjoyed the classes, but felt that I wanted to keep my education major so I would be able to teach in the classroom. After graduation, I immediately landed my dream job teaching has a first grade teacher in Silver Spring, MD. I had many students in my classes with both special education and speech and language needs. Although I enjoyed teaching for 3 years, I felt that I wanted to do something more specialized so I could work with children one on one or in small group setting. When I applied and got into Loyola I felt like it was the right choice to go back to school to get my masters in Speech Language Pathology. I was nervous that I had been out of school too long, but I feel that my professional teaching experience has only helped me throughout the program.

Why did you choose Loyola?

After attending the open house session, I truly felt that Loyola matched my personality and learning style. Everyone I met was so nice and seemed to care about me as a person. Loyola is also fairly close to home, so I could also stay in Maryland to attend Ravens, Orioles, and Terps games!?

How has Loyola’s graduate program shaped you?

Loyola’s graduate program has given me the real world experience I need to go into externships and get a job when I graduate. The program provides so many diverse experiences from working at schools to working with adults in aphasia groups. The supervisors give helpful feedback, challenge you, and share their wealth of knowledge every day. The Loyola Clinical Centers also have access to many different types of treatment materials and technology based therapy which has been very beneficial when working with clients. I did not think I would ever want to work with the adult population, but my experiences in the fall semester of my first year with the adult neurological population, made me change my mind, because I loved my clients!

What Loyola professor/supervisor has had the greatest impact on you and why?