Most people don’t remember what it was like to be two- or three-years-old. But I do. I remember being terribly shy. I’d hide behind my mom’s leg at the mere “hello” from a stranger. She said I didn’t say much back then, but I cried A LOT.
It got to be so much that I was referred to the Tresco TOTS Early Intervention program, a non-profit company in Southern New Mexico, where I received services to help with my communication skills—22 years ago.
Now, I’m back—but this time, I’m here for my clinical fellowship as a future speech-language pathologist! Funny how the universe brings things full circle…
Finding My Path
I grew up in a single-parent household with my mom and older sister in Sunland Park, New Mexico—a tri-border area. My mom only attended school up to the 2nd grade in a small rural town in Chihuahua, Mexico, and she wanted us to have better educational opportunities—ones she never had.
She instilled in us the importance of education for as long as I can remember. Telling us that we could be anything we wanted to be as long as we set our mind to it. Working towards a career soon became a huge part of mine and my sister’s identity.
I knew I wanted to serve families like mine in Southern New Mexico. I knew I wanted to work with hispanohablantes along la frontera … but how? I considered teaching and social work, but they never seemed like the right fit for me. I was about to head off to college, but still on the fence about what degree to pursue and what career path to take. I was 17 … and scared.
My SLP Aha-Moment!
While taking a break during my AP Spanish test, my high school counselor approached me and asked what my plans were. I expressed my love for my community and how I wanted to actively support families like mine. He immediately said, “speech-language pathology.” I looked at him a little funny. I’d never heard of the profession before; but the more he talked about it, the more excited I got. As soon as the school day was over, I ran home to research more.
Speech-language pathology had everything I was looking for in a career—being part of a multidisciplinary team, working for underrepresented groups, and providing services for the people along la frontera. Aha!
I excitedly told my mom about it and that’s when she reminded me of la escuelita (Tresco TOTS) where we would go because I was big chillona who wouldn’t talk. My aha-moment deepened!
Back to Where I Started
I entered New Mexico State University as a CSD student and immediately joined NSSLHA to learn more about what it meant to be a speech-language pathologist. I can’t remember the exact moment I confirmed that this profession was for me, but my excitement grew every day and I was always eager to learn more.
One of my first practicum placements in grad school was at Tresco TOTS. I couldn’t believe my CSD journey brought me back to where it all started and was excited to learn that I’d be working alongside an SLP for a month to treat clients in their homes along the borderland.
At Tresco TOTS, children from birth to three-years-old can be referred for evaluation by a caregiver or doctor. They’re evaluated by a team of two professionals (speech-language pathologist, physical therapist, occupational therapist, etc.), and evaluations, assessments, and treatments are all done in-home at no cost. Families are only required to come to the clinic if they participate in the two-year-old toddler class—even then, transportation is available to them.
At the beginning of my practicum placement, I observed sessions with the SLP, and before I knew it, I was planning treatments and performing sessions myself. Thinking back to all that this organization provides, I’m amazed at how accessible these services are to families at no cost!
Living My Dream
Tresco TOTS was the first place I applied to when looking for clinical fellowship positions. During my interview, I requested that the clinical educator from my practicum experience also be my clinical fellowship supervisor (if I was offered the position). Her tremendous mentorship and love for the community played a big role in my passion for working at Tresco TOTS. I wanted to partake in an organization that showed love and support for the rural communities of Southern New Mexico. I knew what it was like to access services here and I wanted to support other families like mine.
I’m now weeks away from completing my clinical fellowship and every day I’m growing as a clinician and learning from my dear community. Being a part of this organization allowed me to realize my dream of serving members of my own community.
And the universe brought it all together. Lo que es para ti nadie te lo puede quitar.