Studying speech-language pathology to provide individuals a sense of self-agency

JJ Jendayi Johnson 2In the Ancient Egyptian text, Maxims of Ptahhotep, speech is cited as being so powerful that it is “mightier than all fighting.” In this case, I am not referring to speech as a weapon in a literal sense. Instead, my desire to study speech-language pathology is driven by my belief that all individuals should have the opportunity to utilize speech to provide them with a sense of self-agency and to preserve their native language as an essential part of their cultures.

I first desired to become a speech-language pathologist after my grandmother suffered a stroke that limited her ability to speak. The doctor cautioned that her inability to speak or swallow could be permanent. After many months of one-on-one sessions with her speech pathologist, however, my grandmother was able to produce several words and phrases. Eventually, the speech-language pathologist was able to get my grandmother to create whole sentences.

Although my grandmother’s ability to speak is still marginal, it was impressive to see a professional use her degree to help someone who had lost such a fundamental skill regain her speech capabilities. Seeing the speech-language pathologist work with my grandmother was my first encounter with this career path, and her efforts greatly influenced me to search further for ways I could combine my passion for language and inclination to help others.

Throughout my college career, I suffered from anxiety that stemmed from the belief that I wasn’t good enough to handle the demands of college. When I was accepted into college, I was told that I only got in because I was Black. Even after getting into college, a lot of classmates would post on social media, such as Yik Yak, or comment on articles in the school newspaper discrediting the achievements of Black students at my university.

I will be the first person in my family to receive a master’s degree. It is important to me, as my parents did not have the same opportunities that I did to attend college. Receiving my degree will allow me to prove everyone that thought that I didn’t have the ability to succeed wrong. More importantly, it would be the first step of many towards achieving my goal of fortifying my clients’ abilities to communicate their thoughts, opinions, and desires and continuing on the trajectory that other Black scholars who came before me created.

We are proud to announce Jendayi Johnson is one of the current JustJobs Scholarship finalists. Vote for her essay (Facebook ‘Like’ and other social media sharing options in left column), click the ‘heart’ just above comments section below, and/or leave comments of support to help us with the selection process.



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  • Jendayi definitely deserves to be chosen! I’ve known her my whole life and I can definitely say that she has worked so hard to be where she is today.

  • Thank you for sharing this inspirational essay Jendayi. It reminds me of the African Proverb, “until lions have their own historians, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.” Thank you for being willing to give a voice to many who would otherwise never be heard.

  • You have made our family proud. You are overcoming obstacles that many won’t ever understand. You are truly an inspiration to all and your quest is one that is deserving. I can’t wait to see you conquer your dream and help others communicate in so many ways. So proud of you.

  • Beyond deserving this award, Jendayi shows she has a plan for her future in giving back and improving the lives of her community, and i believe these are the most important efforts to support, because it exponentially benefit the community. I believe Jendayi has a passion behind her goals and is deserving of this support.

  • I am so proud of Jendayi and all of her accomplishments. She has very high ethical and moral character, is humble and genuinely cares about others. She will definitely represent your organization, her community and our world by making a difference in the lives of others. Way to go Jendayi

  • Jendayi, just want to express pride in your accomplishments, I am so proud of you, I have enjoyed watching you grow over the years. You are deserving of this scholarship award. Your humility, love and respect for others began when you volunteered at Coal Pit Learning Center. You will contribute to the greater good of our society. Love you

  • I am proud of you. Keep up the great work. “You have to remember that the hard days are what make you stronger. The bad days make you realize what a good day is. If you never had any bad days, you would never have that sense of accomplishment!” Aly Raisman

  • I am really glad I read this. I can definitely relate to the anxiety that comes from the feeling of not being good enough and it’s through stories like yours that I realize that it is a false perception. We all have potential and call sharpen our skills. Great work Jendayi!

  • Beautiful!! One of the best people I know. Jendayi, you’re so deserving of this award and the insanely bright future ahead of you. Can’t wait to see what you do next.

  • I’ve known Jendayi for over 4 years now and I can say she’s worked harder than anyone else to get to the moment she is now. Attending her dream school to conquer the world to help her achieve her dreams of being speech pathologist is a dream come true.

    As a motivational speaker myself whom has done corporate speeches in London, been featured in a viral video for UniLever, spoken for TedX and has done numerous speeches for universities and colleges across the country – Jendayi has helped me with many of these speeches and has given me numerous pointers to make them successful, especially around how I communicated content and body language. What’s even more remarkable was that she would take the time out of her busy exam schedule just to take the time to listen to me and give me pointers, just to help out!

    Jendayi receiving this scholarship would be a dream come true and if there is anyone who deserves it – it’s her!

  • Congratulations for making it this far and you and your family deserve to be proud of your accomplishments. I can really relate to your story and wish you best of luck through the remainder of your journey

  • Congrats to an awesome young lady. I know you family is so proud of you. If there is anyone who deserves this award it is you.Be very proud of your accomplishments and know that your opportunities are endless.

  • This is truly a remarkable essay that highlights this individual’s determination to succeed. It is enlightening and encouraging to see a young African-American female follow her dreams and persevere in spite of the many challenges that she must encounter in life.

  • May God bless you with all the tools you need to be a blessing to a generation that is of need of your gift.
    Beverley webb

  • Wow Jendayi. What an awesome achievement and compassionate reason to pursue your dreams. I know your Mom and Dad are very proud of you!

  • Best of luck. Never be afraid to share your story. In fact, the spaces you’re entering need to hear it, learn from it, and create change with it to pave the way for others. Now more than ever.

  • As an educator I see how speech pathologists change children’s lives. Their increased ability to communicate using devices, or to speak clearly and audibly builds self confidence. I am so proud that Jendayi Johnson is going to join this profession that effects people’s ability to communicate effectively.

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