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Speech pathology is choice for Catholic school product Lexie Maxwell: ‘A switch really flipped in my head’

Lexie Maxwell is a Padua Academy graduate.

After Lexie Maxwell graduated from Padua Academy in 2019, she knew the direction her life would take. Now, almost five years later, she is in her first year in the graduate program in speech language pathology at the University of Delaware. But her past is never far from her future.

Recently, as part of her clinical work at Delaware, Maxwell traveled to Holy Angels School to conduct hearing screenings with a fellow grad student. It was also a trip down memory lane for Maxwell, who attended Holy Angels for nine years before going to Padua. She said the university has partnerships with area schools to do hearing screenings and it didn’t take long for her to decide which school she would do.

“When I saw Holy Angels, I knew I just had to sign up and do the hearing services there,” she said.

“I’ve been in the church, but I hadn’t been in the school since maybe ninth grade. Not a thing had changed within the walls of the school. It definitely transported me back to when I was 12 years old.”

Mary Elizabeth Muir, principal of Holy Angels, said she is impressed when students want to return. High school students come back, she said, because of the relationships they have formed with teachers. When a college or graduate student return, “it often means that they have come to understand the importance of the educational foundation that they received,” and it can be a “safe place” to try new skills.

Muir said in addition to Maxwell, two other Holy Angels graduates attending the teacher-preparation program at the University of Delaware have spent time at the school learning about Catholic education from a teacher’s perspective.

Maxwell said she very much enjoyed her time at Holy Angels, especially the teachers. Some of hers still work at the school and remembered her when she returned a few months ago.

Another reason why her education is memorable — and the catalyst for her interest in speech language pathology — is her own background. Maxwell had tubes inserted into her ears as a youngster to help battle chronic ear infections, and she received speech therapy while at Holy Angels. She believes her hearing issues were a reason why she was behind in reading and mathematics in school, but the school was a big help.

“I was really appreciative of the extra help I could get at Holy Angels to help me catch up with it,” she said.

Muir said it is essential that the school ensures students are reaching their full potential. The partnership with the University of Delaware is one way to do that.

“Annual hearing and vision screenings allow us to identify challenges for students before they blossom into significant interruptions to learning,” Muir said.

After she got to Padua, Maxwell was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and that was a turning point in her education, she said.

“A switch really flipped in my head about how I was performing after I was diagnosed. I was able to learn tools,” she said. “My grades immediately turned around. I went from being a B-C student to all As. Padua did give me the accommodations I needed to fully succeed.”

That included extra time for work and quiet space for tests. That continued at the University of Delaware, where she majored in cognitive science as an undergraduate.

At Padua, Maxwell was involved with the Blue-Gold Club, which worked with the Down Syndrome Association of Delaware, which she called “a really good opening opportunity for me because that population is a population we work with in speech pathology.”

A member of Holy Angels Parish, Maxwell said her Catholic faith plays a role in her professional and personal life.

“I believe that God is leading us where we’re all supposed to be led. Being in the health profession is where I was meant to be to help other people be able to communicate to their full potential,” she said.

She still has a year and a half of graduate school remaining, but she has an idea of where she wants this degree to take her. She is interested in working with children in a medical setting, but “the good thing” about her course of study is that it qualifies the students to work with all populations.

“I’m still figuring out exactly what I want to be.”