Speaking Their Language: TC Student Gemma Moya-Gale | Teachers College Columbia University

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Speaking Their Language: TC Student Gemma Moya-Gale

When Gemma Moya-Gale was looking for graduate education programs in speech and language pathology, she did a simple search on the Web. “The first program that came up was Teachers College’s, so it was the first one I looked at,” she said. Luckily, the Speech and Language Pathology program at TC is also among the top graduate programs of its kind in the world, and Gemma enrolled in the Masters program, thanks to a Fulbright Scholarship, and the Hannah Holzman Scholl Memorial Scholarship, which was established by Harold Scholl (EdD 1957) in honor of his wife, Hannah (MA 1949, PhD 1959). “Scholarships offer so many opportunities…getting the Fulbright and then the Scholl scholarship was fantastic for me,” says Gemma, who graduated from the University of Barcelona with degrees in Linguistics and English Literature.  

Gemma chose the program at TC for its bilingual component, and also for its strong focus on field work. “New York City was a big draw for me, too,” says the Barcelona native. “In Spain you can take speech pathology and language classes, but there is no hands-on training, which is why it’s so important that TC offers both.”  Here in New York, Gemma wants to work with the bilingual population, and eventually with speakers of languages other than Spanish.  “This brings TC closer to the community and allows it to serve the underserved,” says Gemma.

Counseling is also an important part of speech therapy. “At TC, we are taught to take that into account,” says Gemma. “We consider the whole patient and all of the different things that can affect learning.” The Mysak Clinic at Teachers College, where Gemma will conduct her hands-on training in the spring, offers a wide range of diagnostic and therapeutic services to individuals of all ages with communication disorders.  “The patient gets good care, and the student learns at the same time,” says Gemma. 

Looking ahead, Gemma hopes to be working as a researcher and clinician. “Even if I stay in the US, I would really like to go back to Spain, maybe twice a year, to contribute with everything I’ve learned at TC.”  She plans to work in hospitals, particularly with patients who have aphasia, an impairment of language ability.  “Understanding where a person is coming from is important,” says Gemma.  “Empathy is a big part of the job.”

Published Thursday, Dec. 1, 2011


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