My name is Amanda Marisol Pericles. I’m 27 years old and I identify as a bilingual, Black, Dominican-American woman (she/her), a first-generation college student, and a daughter of immigrants. I graduated from Boston University with a Bachelor of Science in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences in 2014, and I’m currently nearly halfway through my second year of graduate studies acting as the Northeastern Student Speech Language and Hearing Association (NSSLHA) Chapter President while pursuing my Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology (MS SLP) at Northeastern University.
Everyone’s journey is different as to how they entered the field of Speech-Language Pathology and how they eventually determined their clinical interests. Some have known since high school, others found out sometime in college, and some still don’t know – despite being in graduate school. I did not come to the full realization of what I wanted to do until after some experience working in the field, retaking some courses, and doing some research of my own. After graduating in 2014, I began working as a Speech-Language Pathology Assistant in a private practice. After nine months, I made the transition to early intervention as a bilingual developmental specialist for the next three and a half years. As a graduate student, I’ve had the opportunity to complete clinical practica in Northeastern’s Speech Language and Hearing Center, a dual language K-5 school within Framingham Public Schools, the Pediatric Feeding and Swallowing Program at Boston Children’s Hospital, and – most recently – the Brain Injury Unit at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. Currently, my interests include voice, neonatal dysphagia, accent modification, and inpatient rehabilitation. I’ve also realized that I would eventually like to make my way into academia as a Clinical Externship Coordinator and focus on mentorship for minority students within graduate SLP programs, particularly at primarily white institutions (PWIs).
Earlier this year, I had the chance to attend the National Black Association for Speech Language and Hearing (NBASLH) Convention. The NBASLH is a multicultural constituent of ASHA; they host their annual convention each April. This year’s convention, themed “Creating Connections and Building Bridges to Address the Communication needs of our Communities”, was held in Charlotte, North Carolina. It is a well-known fact that the racial and ethnic demographics within the field of speech language pathology and audiology are quite skewed, with 3% of personnel identifying as Black, 5% identifying as Hispanic/Latinx, and 6% identifying as bilingual (ASHA Demographic Profile & ASHA Highlights and Trends, Member and Affiliate Counts, 2018). I was well aware of this coming into graduate school and made it a priority to seek out resources that would be helpful to me, as someone who identifies as all three. In preparation for the convention, I reached out to my department and college to see if they would be willing to help finance my expenses for NBASLH. Happily, they were able to provide me with a scholarship that would cover all of my expenses!
As the solo attendee from Northeastern, I was lucky to have friends from other local grad programs as well as speechie friends from all over the country whom I’d met via social media in attendance at NBASLH. The weekend’s schedule included Opening Ceremonies and Reception, the Knowledge Bowl (aka “The Praxis Bowl”), Praxis Prep, a Student Chat Panel Session, the Student Mentor Luncheon, and the Awards Gala, as well as multiple poster boards and sessions one could attend. Some of my favorites included:
- From Amiyya to Fusha: Exploring Differences, Similarities, and Clinical Implications Between Modern Standard Arabic and the Egyptian Variant of Arabic
- The Linguistic Features of Cape Verdean Creole and its Impact on English Language Learners
- The Acquisition of African American English by Spanish-Speaking Preschoolers
- Increasing SLP Presence for Disconnected Youth in the Criminal Justice System
- Perceptions of Speech-Language Pathologists in Clinical Fellowships
- The Impact of Nigerian Languages on English: Linguistic Considerations for SLPs
The NBASLH Conventionwill be held in Houston, TX in April 2020, just a few weeks before Commencement here at Northeastern! As I prepare to apply for my Clinical Fellowship and study for the PRAXIS, I hope to continue networking and finding new opportunities to expand my skills as a clinician. If you’re interested in following me and my journey, feel free to follow me on Instagram, connect with me on LinkedIn, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’re looking for additional resources, I recommend: Dr. Shameka Stanford, SLPs of Color on Instagram, TheSpeechologistSF on Instagram, Sisters in Speech Therapy and Audiology (S.I.S.T.A.S), ASHA’s Hispanic Caucus, National Black Association for Speech Language and Hearing (NBASLH), and many more!