Christina Filia works for The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien but chooses to earn a Speech Language Pathology at CSUSM

CFChristina Filia

When I was growing up, if you had told me that I would become a Speech-Language Pathologist, I would have said, “What is that?” and then “I highly doubt it!” I graduated from UCLA with my B.A. in Psychology. While psychology was very interesting, it was not an area I wanted to pursue. Instead, I began working for The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien. That was an exciting experience but I quickly learned that the rewards of the entertainment industry were few and fleeting. I decided to shift gears and thought about how I wanted to work in a career where I would be of service to others and one where I felt that I could make a difference. This led me to volunteer in a multidisciplinary classroom focused on children with autism. I was fortunate to observe many different professionals at work but I had the greatest affinity for Speech-Language Pathology (SLP). I knew that in order to make sure that SLP was the right career fit for me, I needed to gain more experience. I began working as a paraprofessional for many students with a wide range of disabilities for the Arcadia Unified School District. That is where my love for SLP really grew. I was fortunate to work very closely with the SLP at the high school. She provided me with a mentorship experience where I got to witness and be a part of the everyday life of a high school SLP. The foundation that I built there has been a driving force behind the type of SLP that I hope to become.

My journey to being accepted into CSUSM’s SLP Master’s Program was a difficult but incredibly rewarding path. While working for Arcadia Unified, I completed my pre-requisite post-baccalaureate courses at California State University, Fullerton. SLP programs across the nation are extremely competitive and I applied to many (many) programs. I received some heartbreaking rejections and some encouraging acceptance. But when Dr. Moineau left a voicemail saying I was accepted into the CSUSM cohort, it was the best phone call I had ever received! It changed my life. As I am close to graduating and reflect back on my time at CSUSM, I only have thoughts of gratitude and pride. I have gained so much experience through numerous and varied clinic opportunities; I was awarded a grant to learn how to work with individuals with cleft palate and craniofacial anomalies; I learned from extremely knowledgeable faculty, and I feel ready to be an actual SLP. I am fortunate to have a career ahead of me that is so multifaceted. My goal is to work in a high school where I can collaborate with teachers, work with students who have social learning challenges, and create a concussion management program to educate the staff about brain health and to assist athletes pre and post brain injury. The lessons I learned in the SLP program go far beyond our textbooks. I will always be grateful to the program that chose and put their faith in me.