Jamie Dice, Mary Grace Hamme and Maryana Organidis (Class of 2012)
Participants in the Deaf Education and Empowerment Trip to Ethiopia, Africa
Why did you decide to study communication disorders?
Jamie: I decided to study communication disorders partly because of my personal experiences. As a child, I had a medical condition which required the bones in my ear to be removed. As a result, a prosthesis was placed in my ear. I know what it’s like to wear a hearing aid, and I feel that I will be able to better relate to my clients who have hearing loss. I find the field of speech-language pathology to be the perfect combination of science, client interaction, and problem solving. I enjoy interacting with other people on a professional level and experience great satisfaction when I see people succeed and reach their goals.
How did the education you received at New Paltz influence or prepare you for your experience in Ethiopia?
Mary Grace: I studied abroad during my time at New Paltz and learned that traveling, getting out of your comfort zone, and meeting others is the best way to learn. When I heard about the Deaf Education and Empowerment trip, I thought it would be an amazing opportunity to explore a world different from my own and apply what I have learned from studying communication disorders to the trip. We all had something to give. There were other volunteers, who were educators, and us, who were studying to become speech-language pathologists. Together, we all collaborated on what we know and created activities catered to the children in the classroom for the deaf.
Was there a particular encounter or experience in Ethiopia which reminded you why you decided to pursue a career in communication disorders?
Maryana: One encounter that solidified my desire to work as a speech-language pathologist is also a special moment I will always remember. We were teaching the children simple mathematics through bowling. All of the children were so excited while we were adding the total pins knocked over that they ran to the front of the classroom while I was writing at the board. I taught the entire lesson with all the children just a foot away from me. One girl gave me the biggest hug when the concept clicked in her mind. It was such an inspiring moment to see these children hungry for knowledge.