Amanda Vargo '08

We are fortunate to have made contact with another recent graduate who is thriving in her career. Amanda Vargo graduated from CU-Boulder with an M.A. in Speech Language Pathology in 2008. She received her B.S. from Indiana University-Bloomington in Therapeutic Recreation in 2003. Amanda writes, “I’m currently working at JFK Partners in Denver as a LEND Fellow (Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities) which is funded by the Maternal Child Health Bureau. The LEND program at JFK Partners focuses on developing expertise in working with children with developmental disabilities including autism spectrum disorders; promoting leadership in policy, systems, and advocacy; and utilizing interdisciplinary leadership skills. The fellowship involves both clinical and class related learning experiences. Through my work at JFK Partners I am currently working as the speech language pathologist at the Rise School of Denver. The Rise School is an inclusive school for toddlers and preschoolers. I also provide speech language services through Project ENRICH, JFK Partner’s transdisciplinary approach to Part C early intervention and Family Driven Autism Services and Learning Program (FASL), our home based intervention program for children on the Colorado Autism Medicaid Waiver. In addition to these responsibilities I conduct multidisciplinary team evaluations through the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Clinic and work on a research project studying the efficacy of Wraparound Care Coordination for Part C Children funded through the Health Resources and Services Administration. Through my work at the Rise School of Denver I am collaborating with Amy Thrasher (clinical instructor at CU- Boulder) and Sue McCord to implement the Storybook Journey approach to Curriculum that I learned about in the CLC at the Rise School. I’m so excited to share with the school the power of books in the classroom!” Amanda related to us that while she was at CU she was most passionate about early intervention, family centered practice, inclusion, and had particular interest in the treatment and evaluation of children on the autism spectrum. “I continue to be most excited about these areas of practice now! I plan to begin applying for a PhD program sometime down the road though I’m not quite sure when--I love being a clinician right now! No matter what direction I decide to go, I plan to continue working in early intervention and preschool settings.”

Amanda with alums Kate Hoover & Olivia Kosky:"The Fabulous Pink T-shirts"

Amanda shared some SLHS memories with us, “I remember getting ready to take a dysphagia final and the tension in the room was intense when the instructor (Leslie Mahler) said to us, ‘No matter what happens- just remember you’re fabulous.’ She made us all laugh and it inspired the SLHS class of 2008 to get hot pink 'you’re fabulous' t-shirts. The Talking with Technology Camp was truly an amazing learning experience. I’ve thought a lot about the different devices and techniques I was able to learn about while at camp and am thankful for that experience! I’ve also thought about Anne Whitney’s words often during my experiences on the Autism evaluation team, (I don’t remember the exact words, but something like this) ‘Any monkey can score a test, but it takes a true clinician to interpret the results.’ She inspired me to be excited about the assessment process and to recognize that there is more to testing than the test. Finally, the Child Learning Center (CLC) practicum taught me so much. Not only about how to talk to children and facilitate language development, but how to work with a team, how to look at a whole child, and how to facilitate an environment where all children are engaged in learning regardless of their developmental levels.

'08 Alums Kate Hoover, Amanda, Amy Bell & Sarah Shellquist gather during the holidays:

Amanda is excited to continue to be in touch with many good friends from graduate school, “Just recently we had a reunion happy hour in Denver with about 14 girls! There are several friends from CU that I know I’ll always be friends with- we share vacations together, holiday parties together, and lots of simple evenings just hanging out. We’re so lucky to have found each other at CU! This picture is (from the left) Kate Hoover, Me, Amy Bell, and Sarah Shelquist at a holiday party this past year.” When asked about life outside of her career, Amanda shared the following, “No family yet for me except my husband, but he’s doing great and went back to school this year to pursue his passion for photography. He has one more year and then we’ll hopefully finally have a “studentless” home for a bit!” During her free time Amanda loves going hiking and camping with her husband and friends, curling up with a good book, strawberry milkshakes, and yoga.” To learn more about Amanda’s current work, you can check the following websites. She suggested that viewers “might also enjoy taking a look at the LEND Fellowship flyer in case anyone is interested in applying for one.” The Rise School of Denver: JFK Partners: Another recent graduate who is doing us proud. Thank you for giving us an update Amanda!