Posted on January 27, 2022
By Eliza Lathery, Class of ’22 MA Candidate, UNCG, Communication Studies
Kellar always liked working with kids. She enjoyed taking roles that involved mentoring younger children, such as summer camp counseling. But she felt a new type of passion build within her when she saw some children ostracized due to their differences; not looking the same because of their race or the like, not acting or speaking the same because of disabilities. She hated to see them pushed aside – they were people, too, they were children too! In working with children, she discovered a passion for educating others about social cues and strategies for inclusion. This passion led her to a career focus on Speech-Language Pathology (SLP); once she learned of the field when going into college, she knew it was right for her.
While at UNCG majoring in Communication Sciences and Disorders, Kellar pursued a job opportunity at the Speaking Center to assist people to improve their speech practices. While there, she was introduced to the nonprofit organization Peacehaven, a farm where people with developmental disabilities experience communal living, building relationships and learning from one another; an organization where Kellar has now been volunteering for four years. She finds fulfillment in the relationships there, as well as in the small victories she’s been able to see. Kellar has come to know and appreciate adults with disabilities who struggle with some social interactions become successfully employed and take on the daunting task of navigating the social world with courage. She recalls, for instance, helping one of the residents to ask someone to a dance, and the feeling of joy that she felt when seeing photographs of them enjoying themselves at the event. The experience amplified her resolve to help others with their communication skills.
Kellar hopes to take her future students that she works with in her eventual SLP job to events like UNCG’s career fair, to show them jobs and fields that they may not have known about, including those in speech therapy, as she would love to help others learn of the field earlier in life than she did. She also wants to see racial minorities more represented in the SLP field; doing so expands the opportunities to connect with people in the same demographic group who are struggling with communication. Kellar recalls a message from a recent training with the UNCG Speaking Center: “We are the people who help other people.” This is the message she wants to leave everyone with; whatever you are passionate about and choose to pursue, you can make a difference in the lives of others, and that is worth pursuing.