EPICS Scholar Completes Los Angeles Externship
When the coronavirus pandemic hit the United States and Guam, so many planned events, sometimes events planned years in advance, had to be canceled or postponed and sometimes re-configured. This was the case with the postponement of the much-anticipated seven-week Externship that was supposed to happen beginning in early June for the nine scholars in Group 2 of the Educating Pacific Island Clinicians in Speech Pathology (EPICS) Project. Closure of placement sites due to upticks in people testing positive for the virus was a harsh and frustrating reality, but a necessary one for the health and safety of all involved. For the EPICS scholars, some of whom had persevered for up to five years taking graduate courses while managing work and family obligations, the externship and program completion setback was a big, major disappointment.
After considering as many options as possible to address the situation, Group 2 scholars were given two choices: complete externship in Guam during Fall 2020 or wait till Summer 2021. The scholars decided on what worked best for them and so new plans were set in May. But then a third opportunity developed in mid-June: placement at the Los Angeles Speech and Language Center, Inc. (LASLC, Inc.), in Culver City, California starting in July. For a range of reasons, this option was initially declined by all nine eligible scholars. But then one scholar decided to take the leap and opted to pursue this an exciting opportunity.
Meagan Terlaje figured she could make it work for her. Long story short, it took much coordination and legwork (and yes, luck!) to pull this all together in a very short period of time. Through the efforts of the EPICS Leadership team, Dr. Wendy Quach, SJSU EPICS Co-Principal Investigator, Dr. Gloria Weddington, SJSU Professor Emerita and EPICS Program Coordinator and Catherine Yuen Ying Lam, SJSU Grant Assistant, along with the extreme generosity of Dr. Pam Wiley, Owner of LASLC, Inc., and support from Jon Fernandez, Superintendent of the Guam Department of Education, where Meagan works as a fifth-grade teacher, the placement were secured.
And so after traveling for about 16 hours including a layover in Honolulu, Meagan arrived in Los Angeles at about 5 am July 19, and started her externship the very next day. Meagan’s last day at the clinic was on September 4th, and she couldn’t be happier with how the experience worked out for her. She shared that, “this wasn’t an easy decision for me to make, but it was definitely worth it. Everyone was so kind and welcoming despite this unique and stressful situation. I’ve learned so much! I’m thankful for Dr. Wiley and for the opportunity she’s given me with this experience.
Meagan Terlaje, EPICS scholar, left, is shown with Alaa Elogbi, CCC-SLP, her externship supervisor, practicing social distancing, one of the requirements under the COVID-19 safety protocol.