An abundance of lasts
As my senior year quickly comes to an end, I’ve started reflecting on all of the lasts. I’ve spent the last 17 years of my life in school, learning and memorizing and taking tests and writing papers, but all of that will come to an end on April 29 when I hand in my last final exam at Assumption College.
I keep thinking of the lasts. With all of the construction going on in the center of campus, a friend joked, “what if it’s the last time we’ll ever walk on that walkway?” He made me think about how Assumption will continue to change long after I’m gone. I’ve already had my last first day of school, my last course selection, my last fall semester and my last new professor.
My teachers and professors have been incredibly influential in my academic life. As one of my lasts, I wanted to have a chance to write a different kind of column, so I interviewed one of my favorite professors.
Professor Alison Myette, originally from Middletown, Rhode Island was an English literature major as an undergraduate at the University of Rhode Island. During her senior year, she observed her aunt, a second grade teacher, and the school’s speech therapist as she tried to figure out what to do with an English degree.
“Sign me up,” she said. “I thought to myself, ‘this is totally for me. I’ve found my calling.’”
She took a course in communication science disorders and fell in love with it. That observation during her senior year eventually led her to two of her passions: speech language pathology and teaching.
After obtaining her Masters from URI, she began clinical work at Fairlawn Rehabilitation Hospital in Worcester, Mass. Jane, one of her colleagues at the time, was an adjunct professor at Assumption who taught one of the communication science courses. When she asked if anyone wanted to take over the course for a semester, Myette took the opportunity to cross “teach a college class” off of her bucket list.
“She never did get her class back,” joked Myette, as she eventually took on more and more courses in the Human Services and Rehabilitation Studies department here.
She proposed a new course more focused on the scientific aspects of communication called Speech Science, and she brought it full-circle by inviting Jane to teach it.
16 years later, she remains an integral part of the communication science concentration and one of the most effective professors at Assumption. I have taken two of her classes—Normal Development of Speech and Clinically Based Phonetics—and they have been two of my favorites. Every day, Myette has something new planned that forces students to learn but in a way that’s so much fun it doesn’t feel like learning.
For our midterm exam in phonetics, we played review versions of a knockout game, bingo and Jeopardy, and everyone in the class was interested and engaged. She has us transcribe song lyrics to practice different speech sounds and finding stressed syllables, which results in the entire class jamming to throwbacks. Every class with Myette is interesting like that because of her passion for both not only the material, but also for teaching it.
“When I see students get excited, I get excited too,” she admitted. “I’m a geek like that. I love when students are excited about their learning.”
If she didn’t teach and do clinical work, she would write children’s books.
“I’ve always wanted to write children’s books, but I would never be good at it. I can’t beat my favorites.”
Myette has been a special professor because she has sparked a passion in me for something completely outside of my major and minors, but also because she has such a positive energy and emanates her passion for the subject.
Her final exam will be my absolute last, and for that, I’m grateful to end college on such a high note.