Choosing to major in speech-language pathology stems from the combination of personal and community service experiences that have shown me where my great passion meets one of the world’s great needs.
While volunteering at Mother Theresa’s Shishu Bhavan I facilitated physical therapy, communication exercises, and daily care for abandoned and handicapped children. Throughout my time abroad I was reminded of the tremendous influence impaired communication skills can have on the quality of human life. Despite this influence, I was shocked to witness that the development of services for people with communication disabilities has a low priority in health care and rehabilitation in developing countries. Consequently, I realized there is a clear need to develop new and innovative service structures, which I hope to be a part of upon completion of my graduate program.
My domestic service experiences have shown me that there are also paramount needs to be addressed in our own nation. Being an undergraduate in Baltimore provided an enormous amount of opportunities to see how speech-language pathologists can serve and learn about their greater community. At Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital and at Mother Seton Academy, where I served as both a therapy aide and tutor respectively, I interacted with children experiencing homelessness and poverty. I again interacted with this population of children during this past year as I’ve served as an assistant teacher with AmeriCorps at the Notre Dame Montessori School, a pre-school located in an area that is economically integrated and subsidized for low income families. It is here that I have worked one-on-one daily with children, ages 3 to 7, affected by homelessness or a low socio-economic status. In this time I realized how significantly those factors can hinder literacy development, affecting the language skills and patterns that will stay with children throughout their lives.
As I progress into my career, I aspire to find ways to help alleviate the inverse relationship between literacy development and homelessness. As an AmeriCorps volunteer I lived below the poverty line so that I could work with the children from a place of mutual understanding. Although challenging, that experience has become synergized with my passion to change societal structures that impede equal opportunities for people with communication disorders. I believe that communication disorders create a population of people on the margins of society that need to be served and advocated for, and as a speech-language pathologist I will have the opportunity to do this very justice.
With the aid of a scholarship towards my degree I will develop my intentions for societal change and formulate them into tangible possibilities. By being able to effectively communicate, people can thrive by manipulating their surroundings and actively engaging in the world around them, developing themselves to their fullest potential. As a speech-language pathologist I will dedicate myself to ensure that individuals have this chance. A graduate student scholarship towards the Northeastern University speech-language pathology graduate program will put me in a place that can help me foster my growth in this field.
JustJobs.com’s scholarship program is proud to announce Amber Beigay as one of the seven finalists for its August 2012 application deadline. Vote for her essay (Facebook ‘Like’ and other social media sharing options in left column), and/or leave comments of support to help us with the selection process.