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Meet the Major: Communication Disorders

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University of Massachusetts student Niamh and a quote reading "The opportunities that I have been presented with as a UMass student are simply unmatched, and while the university is large, I feel as though I am right at home."

Niamh Howlett is a sophomore at the University of Massachusetts Amherst majoring in communication disorders. She started her college career at a small college in New Jersey, but decided that she wanted to transfer, so she started looking at other schools during her freshman year. As soon as she toured the campus, Niahm knew she wanted to come to UMass Amherst. 

“I felt like I was home. I got such a wonderful feeling from all of the students I encountered - I could tell that everyone was passionate and enthusiastic to be a part of the UMass Amherst community,” she says. 

Niamh loves that her major and career path will allow her to work with a variety of patients from infants to the elderly, and in a variety of locations from schools to hospitals and even house calls. She chose to major in communication disorders because she has always wanted to be a speech therapist. 

“I always knew I wanted to make a difference in the world; I want to be able to help others not only communicate, but I also want to be able to advocate for patients' wants and needs,” Niamh explains. 

Although the classes for her major are challenging, Niamh has enjoyed and learned a lot from every single course she has taken at UMass Amherst. 

“I never thought I would say I enjoyed a physics class, but the professors make each lecture so exciting and interactive,” she notes. 

Niamh loves how passionate each of her professors are about teaching, and sharing their knowledge with students. She feels comfortable knowing that all of her professors genuinely care about the success and wellbeing of their students. For example, one of her favorite physics professors would bake cookies for the class after every exam and congratulate them on completing it. 

There are many different career paths for a communication disorders major. Some examples are a speech language pathologist, an audiologist, a special education instructor, or even a communication disorders professor. Niamh’s plan is to attend graduate school and get her master's degree in speech pathology.

“It is my dream to eventually work in a hospital setting - specifically working with patients who have suffered traumatic brain injuries,” she says.

Even though UMass Amherst is a large university, Niamh has never felt out of place and loves the opportunities our campus brings. Outside of class Niamh stays busy, whether it is cheering on UMass at sporting events, trying out the different restaurants in Amherst, visiting the variety of shops, or going hiking in the beautiful mountains in the area. UMass Amherst also has a Peter Pan stop which Niamh uses to travel into Boston and see concerts at the House of Blues. She also has a job on campus as a tour guide. 

“I have the amazing opportunity to meet with prospective students and their families and tell them, from personal experience, just how incredible UMass Amherst truly is,” she says.

“I have grown to live by the saying, ‘You can make a big university feel small, but you can not make a small university feel big’ —UMass Amherst is the epitome of that. The opportunities that I have been presented with as a UMass student are simply unmatched, and while the university is large, I feel as though I am right at home,” she adds.


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