Keeping an Eye on the Big Picture Name: Puja Goel Title: Bilingual Itinerant SLP, Chicago Hometown: Naperville, Illinois Puja Goel has a big-picture mindset and doesn’t mind jumping into the thick of activities. It’s a good thing, too—as a bilingual school-based speech-language pathologist who works with students who speak Hindi and Urdu, she has a 60-student caseload ... In the Limelight
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In the Limelight  |   June 01, 2011
Keeping an Eye on the Big Picture
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  • Kellie Rowden-Racette, print and online editor and writer for The ASHA Leader, can be reached at krowden-racette@asha.org.
    Kellie Rowden-Racette, print and online editor and writer for The ASHA Leader, can be reached at krowden-racette@asha.org.×
Article Information
Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / School-Based Settings / Speech, Voice & Prosody / In the Limelight
In the Limelight   |   June 01, 2011
Keeping an Eye on the Big Picture
The ASHA Leader, June 2011, Vol. 16, 31. doi:10.1044/leader.LML.16062011.31
The ASHA Leader, June 2011, Vol. 16, 31. doi:10.1044/leader.LML.16062011.31

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Name: Puja Goel
Title: Bilingual Itinerant SLP, Chicago
Hometown: Naperville, Illinois
Puja Goel has a big-picture mindset and doesn’t mind jumping into the thick of activities. It’s a good thing, too—as a bilingual school-based speech-language pathologist who works with students who speak Hindi and Urdu, she has a 60-student caseload that spans grades K–12 and a wide range of diagnoses. Goel can spend her morning working on fluency goals with a third-grader, lunchtime focusing on social/pragmatic skills with students with autism in grades 1–3, and her afternoons with kindergarteners targeting phonemic awareness and articulation in a response-to-intervention program. But she has no complaints about her unrelenting schedule. Goel sees it instead as an opportunity to “become more efficient and more equipped.”
“I wanted to get a handle on the public school system and to become more adept at working with different kids,” she said. “I’m getting an opportunity to work with all these children and learn how to help them. I’ve become much more flexible.”
It’s this tendency to view her world from the macro level that led Goel to become an SLP. As a Smith College graduate with a degree in political science in the late 1990s, Goel was doing what she thought she should be—working in financial services, making a decent paycheck, and traveling a bit. But after a few years she felt something was missing. She needed more satisfaction with her work and wanted to feel that she was helping people. She looked at the health care field and consulted her mother, who teaches in a Montessori school. That investigation led her to the perfect path: speech-language pathology.
“My family was all for it because they know I love to talk, and here was a field that was about communication,” she laughed.
And they were right in their enthusiastic support. After earning a master’s degree at Northwestern University, Goel spent a few years in private therapeutic day schools working with high-needs students, many diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders. She loved the challenge and the students, but realized she wanted more. And what could be more challenging than working in the public school system? Now almost a year later, she is thriving, enjoying her work and exploring future opportunities. Goel is a part of ASHA’s Leadership Development Program and has some thoughts as to where her future efforts will take her. Not surprisingly, her thoughts are focused on the bigger picture.
“I think there needs to be more emphasis on what we, speech-language pathologists, can offer educators. There needs to be more communication and understanding on how we fit in and how we can really help the students with the most important of all functions—communication.”
Puja Goel, MA, CCC-SLP, can be reached at pujagoel2020@gmail.com.
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June 2011
Volume 16, Issue 6