Ashley Victor has always had a passion for communication and helping others. But it wasn’t until she got to college that she found a way to integrate the two.
After beginning on a pre-nursing track at the University of Florida, it was during a conversation with her advisor that she first heard about speech-language pathology. It was a discussion that changed her career trajectory.
“I really like language and communication,” said Victor. “How we actually communicate with others is so important, and I knew that becoming a speech-language pathologist would allow me to bring together everything I was looking to do.”
She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Communication Sciences and Disorders with a minor in Health Disparities, eager to continue her education and become an SLP. She chose to attend the MGH Institute because it offered her the chance to gain clinical experiences at hospitals throughout Greater Boston.
Upon starting the two-year program, the first-generation student who is Haitian-American discovered the school’s comprehensive approach to diversity. Given that only 8.5% of SLPs identify as racial minorities, this focus was critical.
“In all areas of health care, it’s important that providers relate to those they serve and reflect those communities. The IHP educates us to embrace our differences even in a field that’s not very diverse,” said Victor, who noted that while the Institute has done an incredible job on this front, there is always more to be done. “I truly hope the number of Black speech-language pathologists keeps growing. Regardless of field or personal experience, everyone brings their own abilities and identities to the table. Here at the IHP, that’s really valued.”
Victor remains dedicated to the field given its critical nature and endless opportunity. “Speech pathology is so broad that it’s hard to get bored. That’s what keeps me going,” she said.
Several cases in point: last fall, Victor worked in the NICU at Massachusetts General Hospital supporting premature infants’ feeding and swallowing development. This past spring, she worked with students in the Boston Public Schools who have autism and were non-speaking. This summer, she is working with adults in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders’ Aphasia Center, part of the Sanders IMPACT Practice Center.
“As SLPs, we aim to support individuals in meeting their personal goals,” she said. “Whether it’s verbal communication or using augmentative and alternative communication devices like an iPad, we regularly ask ‘How can we help?’ Allowing those we work with to guide us is essential. We operate with a people-first mindset.”
For our patients, rest is considered healing, but that is also true for us,” she said. “We cannot truly serve our patients until we serve ourselves. So many of us move through our lives overworked, tired, and restless. When we show up in the world well-rested, we show up fully and authentically as our best selves. We allow others to see that we are more than just what we can accomplish and that gives them the courage to believe that of themselves. It is my hope that we can become more diligent in our pursuit of a work-life balance.”
“Ashley embodies the strength of our community, and her commitment to education is what makes her shine,” noted Jack Gormley, EdD, Dean of Student Services, who co-chaired the speaker selection committee. “Her speech is relatable to so many of our students. Giving her the platform to share her story at this year’s Commencement was the clear choice for the committee.
As a future alum, she is proud to represent the IHP and continue building an inclusive community wherever her career may take her. After receiving her Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology degree, she plans to continue helping others, advocating for change, and offering people from all backgrounds services that will best help to support their needs.