The aim of the API Caucus Online Dialogue series is to promote conversation and engagement around issues relevant to speech, language, and hearing wellness in the API community. The theme of our inaugural Online Dialogue on April 3, 2016 was Passing the Torch. We had conversations with two long-serving and accomplished API pioneers and ASHA members: Ms. Melody OuYoung and Dr. Kenneth Tom. They recounted how they got their start in the Communicative Disorders field; reflected on the challenges and rewards of being among the first API professionals in the field; and shared their advice for the next generation of API professionals.
In part 1 of the dialogue, we talked with Ms. OuYoung who shared her first years as graduate student in Illinois from Taiwan and how she became interested in speech-language pathology. She reflected on the tremendous amount of work and personal growth required to reach where she is today. She urged new professionals coming in the field to find their own confidence and strength.
"It's not how other people look at you. It's how you look at yourself."
In part 2 of the dialogue, we conversed with Dr. Kenneth Tom who discovered speech-language pathology through a background in music and performance. He shared his experiences growing up in San Francisco and what he learned from his family . He credits his mentors for showing him what's possible and advised each of us to reach out to others.
"When you make known what you do, you not only are affecting your patients, your own work, and the environment, but you're acting as a model. You're visible."
In the final part of the dialogue, we opened the conversation to all of the participants. We enjoyed a lively discussion about issues affecting practitioners who are non-native speakers of English, how to be an effective professional communicator, and how to promote more awareness of the Communicative Disorders field within the API communities.