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Injury Inspires New Career Pursuit for Ice Hockey Player

Lebanon Valley College ice hockey player Jared Karas is studying speech language pathology

While playing ice hockey for our LVC men’s team, Jared Karas ’21, M’22 suffered a concussion. As the recovery stretched on, causing him to miss most of the season, LVC’s athletic trainers suggested visiting a speech pathologist for rehabilitation to alleviate the lingering symptoms.

“I had never heard of someone seeing a speech-language pathologist (SLP) for a concussion before, so I did some research into the field and what an SLP does,” said Karas. “I was amazed by how wide of a field of study it is, and the medical rehab side of it was really interesting.” 

Not only did the rehab help, but it also turned Karas on to a new career.

“It was a field that had the healthcare aspect that I enjoyed and was studying, and the psychological aspect that had always interested me. Everyone I talked to about the field couldn't have better things to say about it and encouraged me that it would be a great decision to switch majors to SLP,” said Karas, who was previously studying exercise science.

As a speech-language pathology major, Karas has shadowed professionals in medical and educational settings and enjoyed studying the brain and how it functions during his Neuroscience of Communication course. He found it fascinating to learn how intricate a process talking is and how much goes into doing something many people consider to be such a simple task.  

Karas also talked about the connections between the faculty and students in the tight-knit and supportive community.

“As a new student in the major, I felt welcome right away,” he said. “For our Military Appreciation Night hockey game this year, we asked all the departments to be involved somehow. When I reached out to mine, they went above and beyond by asking to do a bake sale at the game and had a big in-person turnout from the department.”

The department is also giving back to LVC Athletics with a new initiative. Karas is teaming with Dr. Michelle Scesa, chair and professor of speech-language pathology, on a research study to help athletes’ cognitive performance. The players will meditate and learn mindfulness strategies before watching film and use imagery to improve techniques before getting on the ice. They hope to introduce it to the ice hockey team this academic year.

While Karas is not entirely sure about his career goals, he wants it to involve sports.

“I would either like to work with athletes in concussion rehab or work as a hockey coach,” he said. “I know I want to work with athletes and help them either rehab their cognitive abilities after a concussion or improve their cognitive abilities to excel in their sport.”