Envisions Pioneering New Research to Help Bilingual Students Communicate More Efficiently

One of the biggest moments in life is when the first word is spoken. The achievement of this milestone was particularly significant for my brother, David, who was diagnosed with Down syndrome and did not say “Mom” until he was seven years old. With the help of frequent and intense speech and language interventions, my brother developed the ability to verbally communicate, which transformed from mere grunts to full words and eventually entire phrases. My experience growing up with a brother who has special needs motivates me to pursue graduate-level training and an eventual career in the field as a speech-language pathologist and researcher.

English is not my parents’ first language; consequently, I was usually the translator during IEP meetings and doctor’s appointments. Bearing the responsibility of translating for my family at a young age, I became frustrated that professionals were not equipped with the necessary training to meet the needs of my multicultural family. Although translating used to be an overwhelming responsibility for me, now it fuels my motivation to become a bilingual practitioner so I can help relieve some of the communication roadblocks that often burden multicultural families in the United States.

The Communication Sciences and Disorders program at Teachers College, Columbia University, will better position me to become an adaptive practitioner. As a first-generation Hispanic male, I can reflect on my family’s experiences, such as immigration, the language learning curve, and the difficulties accessing services because of language barriers. These experiences will not only provide a unique insight into realities that many clients face but also raise cultural awareness. This is not material that textbooks can teach, and equipping the future clinicians in my program with the understanding of this reality is crucial to progress cultural competency.

The clinical program, research, and community service opportunities at Teachers College will serve as my pillars to become a researcher, a leader of educational practice, and a professional who is ready to meet the needs of multicultural families. My experiences have taught me firsthand how our encounters with perceived disabilities help make us more compassionate, understanding members of society. Reflecting on the impact these encounters have had on me, I hope to make a change by pioneering new research strategies to help children, like David and bilingual students, communicate more efficiently so they may flourish in their lives. Through my boundless enthusiasm, I envision myself graduating and channeling my passion for making a difference not only in individual lives but also the community at large through Teachers College, Columbia University.

We are proud to announce Daniel Campollo is one of the current DiversityJobs Scholarship finalists. Vote for his essay (Facebook and other social media sharing options in left column) and/or leave comments of support to help us with the selection process.