Ashley Scholarship Supports Intern’s Career Goals

Jessica Garcia had no idea that her calling in life would be determined in a high school gym a few years ago. As a volunteer in a unique school program, she agreed to observe special needs students, shadowing them during a typical day. In doing so, Jessica had an “aha” moment. She was introduced to the challenges that speech deficits pose, and seeing her peers struggle with communication stirred something inside.

“I was hooked immediately,” she recalled. “I knew I wanted to study anatomy, teach, and work with patients. Speech language pathology had all of that.”

Jessica GarciaToday, she’s a graduate student at Southern Illinois University (SIU) and an intern at CNS Bakersfield in the Speech Language Pathology (SLP) program. Jessica will graduate in May, thanks, in part, to an SIU scholarship created by the Ashley family. Dr. Mark Ashley, CNS founder and CEO, received his Sc.D. degree at SIU. He began his career as a speech therapist and has published a host of academic papers on speech rehabilitation. Clearly, this clinical path is near and dear to him, and through the scholarship, the Ashleys will continue to help students like Jessica experience “aha” moments in their professional journey.

Once Jessica graduates she plans on working in the field of neurogenic communication disorders. She’s working with a variety of CNS patients, but her interest in aphasia is the most compelling area so far. “Aphasia has many aspects,” she points out. “It’s always been an interest of mine and the bilingual component here really helps, as I’m a Spanish speaker.”

The internship has exposed Jessica to a vast spectrum of patients, she noted. “I get to see their progress throughout rehabilitation; it’s an amazing feeling. Everyone at CNS Bakersfield has been tremendous,” she added.

“Because of Dr. Ashley, I’ve been given experience in every discipline of rehabilitation. Collaboration is a huge component here and CNS has the patient’s best interest in mind. I chose this field correctly. I love it!”