Magazine article The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education

UNM Barbara Rodríguez Disentangles Speech

Magazine article The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education

UNM Barbara Rodríguez Disentangles Speech

Article excerpt

When leaching, Barbara Rodriguez, associate professor of speech and hearing sciences at the University' of New Mexico (UNM) , might mention to her class that she is from Española, N.M. "Students come up to me and say, Tm from Española, loo!' or they might say they're from Vegas, Taos or Mora. ? think they respond that way because it's the first time they've come across a faculty member from home," she said.

She is one of eight siblings from a longtime northern New Mexico, southern Colorado family. "Six are still in Española, and one is in California," she explains.

Like many students from Northern New Mexico, she set her sights early on attending UNM. "1 come from a long line of educators on my mother's side. My high school counselor told me that there were jobs in accounting, so that's what ? came to study," she said. However, by her junior year, she decided she wanted to work with children in a nonclassroom setting, and so began her path to a career in speech-language padiology.

Rodríguez earned both a bachelor's and master's degree in communication disorders from UNM before going to the University of Washington for her Ph.D.

Her passion for the profession is palpable. She said that people view the scope of SLP practice very narrowly. They know that speech-language paüiologists work with clûldren who have a lisp or a stuttering problem, But tliey don't know that SLPs assess and treat voice, speech and swallowing in adults with head and neck cancers.

"They don't know that we help children who are nonverbal to use augmentative and alternative communication devices. Nor do they understand the speed) and language connection to reading," she said.

Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) don't just work with children or adults with communication disorders, either. "We work with the spouse or family of a patient with dementia to help them remember and use compensating strategies. Tor example, we might suggest the spouse put together a communication notebook with photos of family members, places and objects," Rodriguez said,

Another way they help is for individuals undergoing gender reassignment. "If we have a transgender male transitioning to female, she needs to learn female speech patterns and nonverbal communication," she said.

Rodríguez and her coUeapes also work with international students, helping them reduce or modify their accents to promote effective teaching. …

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