JustJobs Scholarship Scholarship

Studying speech-language pathology to provide individuals a sense of self-agency

JJ Jendayi Johnson 2In the Ancient Egyptian text, Maxims of Ptahhotep, speech is cited as being so powerful that it is “mightier than all fighting.” In this case, I am not referring to speech as a weapon in a literal sense. Instead, my desire to study speech-language pathology is driven by my belief that all individuals should have the opportunity to utilize speech to provide them with a sense of self-agency and to preserve their native language as an essential part of their cultures.

I first desired to become a speech-language pathologist after my grandmother suffered a stroke that limited her ability to speak. The doctor cautioned that her inability to speak or swallow could be permanent. After many months of one-on-one sessions with her speech pathologist, however, my grandmother was able to produce several words and phrases. Eventually, the speech-language pathologist was able to get my grandmother to create whole sentences.

Although my grandmother’s ability to speak is still marginal, it was impressive to see a professional use her degree to help someone who had lost such a fundamental skill regain her speech capabilities. Seeing the speech-language pathologist work with my grandmother was my first encounter with this career path, and her efforts greatly influenced me to search further for ways I could combine my passion for language and inclination to help others.

Throughout my college career, I suffered from anxiety that stemmed from the belief that I wasn’t good enough to handle the demands of college. When I was accepted into college, I was told that I only got in because I was Black. Even after getting into college, a lot of classmates would post on social media, such as Yik Yak, or comment on articles in the school newspaper discrediting the achievements of Black students at my university.

I will be the first person in my family to receive a master’s degree. It is important to me, as my parents did not have the same opportunities that I did to attend college. Receiving my degree will allow me to prove everyone that thought that I didn’t have the ability to succeed wrong. More importantly, it would be the first step of many towards achieving my goal of fortifying my clients’ abilities to communicate their thoughts, opinions, and desires and continuing on the trajectory that other Black scholars who came before me created.

We are proud to announce Jendayi Johnson is one of the current JustJobs Scholarship finalists. Vote for her essay (Facebook ‘Like’ and other social media sharing options in left column), click the ‘heart’ just above comments section below, and/or leave comments of support to help us with the selection process.