Communication Sciences and Disorders, 2009
What is your current title?
Speech-Language Pathologist, UK HealthCare
What made you decide to pursue NFL Cheerleading after having a job as an SLP?
I started dancing when I was three years old. Throughout my entire life, dance has always been a passion of mine. I was a part of the University of Kentucky Dance Team while obtaining my undergraduate degree but decided to take a break from dance while obtaining my Master’s degree. I had auditioned for a variety of professional dance companies after college but nothing ever seemed to work out. I quickly fell in love with my job as a speech-language pathologist and decided to let my professional career as an SLP lead my direction in life. A little over a year ago, my husband and I were having a conversation about our dreams and aspirations that we wanted to achieve, prior to starting a family. I always had a dream of dancing/cheering professionally with the NFL, and I felt the need to give myself one more shot at it with no regrets. I knew, if given this opportunity, I would have to relocate, change jobs, and create an even busier lifestyle. With A LOT of prayer and the support of my husband, I knew I could not turn down that opportunity.
Why did you choose the UK College of Health Sciences for your studies and place of employment?
When entering college, I honestly had no clue what I wanted to do. I knew I enjoyed working with individuals with disabilities, but I was torn whether to go into education or the medical field. My mom, who worked in rehab therapy at the time, encouraged me to seek out speech-language pathology to learn more about it. She had a feeling it would spark my interest and she was right! I enrolled in an introduction to communication disorders class my sophomore year and immediately fell in love with the practice. During my graduate studies, I had the opportunity to work within the UK Communication Disorders Enterprise Clinic. I really enjoyed learning the roles and responsibilities as an SLP in a clinical setting. Most importantly, I gained relationships with several mentors who significantly increased my knowledge and skills as a clinician and have made me a better person because of their professional influence. When I heard that the Enterprise Clinic had an opening, I applied and was fortunate enough to begin my journey here at UK. My work at UK has definitely made me the clinician I am today, and I will always be grateful for the opportunities I have had, especially in increasing my knowledge and skillset with individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders.
What are your primary responsibilities?
I provide assessment and treatment to a variety of individuals with communication disorders. I primarily work with pediatrics, adults with intellectual disabilities, and individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders.
What do you do in your spare time?
Cooking! I love cooking and experimenting with my own recipes. My husband and I enjoy traveling, when we have the free time. We also have a golden-doodle named Ronald Reagan, who I love to run and snuggle with!
How do you combine your love for cheerleading with your love for CSD?
One thing I did not realize when entering the professional cheerleading industry is the amount of charitable opportunities I would have. I also didn’t realize the platform and publicity that I would have as a cheerleader for the NFL. Using this platform and publicity has allowed me to share my love and advocacy for individuals with disabilities, especially those with Autism Spectrum Disorders. I am a huge advocate for individuals with ASD and I have had some amazing opportunities to advocate for those individuals using my platform as a professional cheerleader with the metro Cincinnati and Central Kentucky areas.
Do you have any advice for students interested in the CSD field?
Take advantage of all of the experiences you can! Whether that be through job shadowing, clinical rotations, or part-time jobs in the field. We are so blessed and fortunate that the field of speech-language pathology is so broad. We can decide if we prefer to work with children or adults, dysphagia or language, etc. SLPs have an abundance of opportunities and I challenge future students to take advantage of any and every opportunity so they can allow themselves to grow into the therapist they want to be and create a specialty skillset for their practice. If you work hard and love what you, you will change lives!
Clinical photo by Rachel Curtin