Black History Month: Celebrating the Future of Our Professions

Know what we love seeing most?  . . .

You—taking the initiative to highlight issues that are important to you.
You—speaking up and letting your voices be heard.
You—inspiring and motivating others to not be afraid to speak their truths too.

This Black History Month, we want to celebrate the wave of student leaders we’ve seen make significant impacts on their CSD communities . . .

Amanda Pericles

#slp2b at Northeastern University

Amanda identifies as a bilingual, Black, Dominican-American woman (she/her), a first-generation college student, and a daughter of immigrants. After graduating from Boston University with a bachelor’s in speech, language, and hearing sciences in 2014, she worked as an SLPA in private practice, then spent three and a half years as a bilingual developmental specialist. This spring, she’ll graduate from Northeastern University with a master’s in speech-language pathology. She’s president of her NSSLHA chapter, an NBASLH member, a Sisters in Speech Therapy and Audiology (S.I.S.T.A.s) member, and part of ASHA’s S.T.E.P. mentoring program.

But these credentials aren’t what makes Amanda a super star. What makes her inspiring is her use of Instagram (@theblackspeechie) to not only connect with her peers and share her experiences as an SLP student, but as a platform to share information and have real conversations on topics related to race, diversity, inclusion, and cultural humility. As a student, Amanda shares influential messages and has a knack for connecting with others in the most relatable way.

Jon K. Williams

#aud2b at University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

Jon’s a second-year audiology student at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) and currently serves as the UAMS Student Academy of Audiology (SAA) chapter president. He’s also a member of the UAMS College of Health Professions student advisory council and was recently asked to be a member of the Audiology and Speech Department’s ad hoc committee for improving the quality of education for all students.

Jon’s easily described as having a thirst for knowledge and understanding. He chose audiology to provide communication access to those who don’t have it, and advocates for those individuals in classrooms, work settings, and social settings. Since the future of healthcare is interprofessional practice, his goal is to help improve quality of life for hard-of-hearing individuals by taking a more holistic approach as a provider.

We admire Jon for not only advocating for the professions; but also speaking up to be the voice for his peers, and current and future clients!

Kevante Drew

#slp2b at East Tennessee State University

As a first-year grad student Kevante’s an active member of his local NSSLHA chapter and alumni of the ASHA Minority Student Leadership Program (MSLP). One of his professors describes him as being “one of the most compassionate, caring, inclusive students” she’s known in her 30 years of being in academia. He makes sure all students feel included, accepted, and heard! Kevante’s passionate about the field and every practicum placement he’s given. He goes the extra mile in everything he does—as a student, clinician, research assistant, and graduate assistant.

We have no doubt that Kevante will take his passion for learning about the professions to working with clients with ease and kind-heartedness. He’s one to watch!

Lauren Prather

#slp2b at University of Cincinnati

Lauren’s been a rock star NBASLH member, who currently holds the role of student representative on the NBASLH Board of Directors (BOD). She’s collaborated with multidisciplinary teams to address communication, educational, and social needs of students with a wide variety of disability classifications. As a doctoral student, her research interest is in language and literacy for underserved populations, specifically focusing on dialect and the black-white academic achievement gap.

In addition to her role on the NBASLH BOD, Lauren sits on the NBASLH social media committee and is the vice president of the Black Graduate and Professional Association at the University of Cincinnati. She was part of ASHA’s 2013 MSLP cohort, and a panelist on the PhD Information Sharing Session for the 2017 MSLP event.

What makes Lauren unique? She holds her Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) and is licensed in the states of Georgia and Ohio. Her student status is the result of concurrently being a doctoral student at the University of Cincinnati, working towards her PhD. She serves as the president of the Black Graduate Student and Professional Association. Lauren’s passionate about enriching the lives of student experiences, making space for African American students in CSD and academia … she believes in service, and loves being a speech-language pathologist.

Nicole Flournory

#slp2b at Arizona State University

Once Nicole realized she was the only Black student in her graduate cohort of 45, a serious bout of Imposter Syndrome kicked in . . . and continued through her first two semesters of grad school. Then, she enrolled in the course, “Communication Disorders in Multicultural Populations.” The class of 30 openly addressed the elephant in the room—diving into race, culture, and ethnicity. Everyone was encouraged to share their own cultural her/histories, and demonstrated a willingness to listen with open hearts and engage in frequently uncomfortable conversations. Nicole found community in this space and finally kicked some of that Imposter Syndrome to the curb.

But she didn’t want these important conversations to stop there. So, along with several others, she established a new club on campus: Speech and Hearing Science for Cultural and Linguistic Diversity.

We applaud Nicole for recognizing an opportunity to support cultural and linguistic diversity on her campus—and taking the initiative to make change!

A Bright Future for the Professions

These students have a natural passion for using their voice to support diverse populations. We have no doubt they’ll continue shaping the professions now and in the future. So, keep an eye out for them. We can’t wait to see what they accomplish!

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