New grads of speech-language pathology master's program help fill Las Vegas-area need

Posted at 10:33 PM, May 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-15 01:42:30-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Many students are graduating from college, ready to embark on a new adventure.

Nevada State College has the only speech-language pathology master’s program in the area, and its students will help to combat a shortage of the profession in the community. In fact, two of them are already making big strides on this, even before graduating.

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For Galela Fikre and Yanitza Marmolejos, it has taken at least 10 years of their life to achieve this dream. Both are speech pathologist clinical fellows graduating on June 5.

Fikre and Marmolejos are both bilingual, like to help others, work with children and are the first ones of their families to work in this field.

“Nobody understood what I was trying to do because nobody's ever heard -- especially not in my family -- nobody's ever heard of a speech pathologist," said Fikre. "So I'm constantly having to teach people and educate them on what I am doing."

For Marmolejos, her profession hits home.

She has a cousin, Christina, who needed to learn ASL to communicate. Seeing her difficulties inspired her.

“When she would hang out with her friends she would use ASL, but then when she would come with the family nobody used it," said Marmolejos. "So it was like she lived in these two separate worlds. It was really hard to see that."

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The majority of pathologists are not people of color even though many children in need come from minorities.

“A lot of our families here don't really know that there are early education, early intervention programs out here," said Marmolejos. "So it's really pushing it out that there is help that you can get for your child at two, three years old."

"With more people of color joining the field, I feel like more parents will look more into these resources because they see that we will understand, that ok, you might speak differently, English might not be your first language but I understand that and I can find so many other ways to help you, “ said Firke.

Articulation, fluency, voice, language, hearing and augmented communication are just some of the areas that speech pathologists focus on.

Fikre will be the only speech-language pathologist in Pahrump, and she already feels a big responsibility with that community.

If you would like to learn more about the speech-language pathology master’s program, contact Nevada State College or check out their website at nsc.edu.