A True Trailblazer: Connie Mendoza
Finding one’s calling can be one of the most impactful, yet tedious missions of life. For many, it takes decades of knowledge, growth, and trials to answer their calling. Connie Mendoza, on the other hand, has not only found her vocation, but has been meticulously working at it for the past few years.
Growing up in the greater Waco area, Mendoza found her passion early on by shadowing a local speech therapist at her primary school. It wasn’t long afterwards that Mendoza decided to apply to Baylor University and start her journey to become a speech-language pathologist (SLP).
“I instantly fell in love with the profession after shadowing an SLP,” Mendoza said. “Then, I found out Baylor has a really great Speech-Language Pathology program. I did more research on that and eventually transferred from McLennan Community College to Baylor.”
After finishing her undergraduate degree in the fall of 2022, Mendoza joined the Master of Science degree program in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD) at Baylor’s Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences.
In addition to her academic program involvement, Mendoza is also a proud member of the inaugural cohort of Baylor Multicultural Affairs’ Trailblazer Scholars Program. As a Hispanic student in a predominantly white institution, she feels that the Trailblazer Scholars Program—a program intended to foster a diverse community, so people of all backgrounds feel welcomed and included—has been a pivotal part of her growth and success at Baylor.
“The Trailblazer Scholars Program created an environment where I felt like I belonged because I was surrounded by people who shared similar perspectives and goals regarding cultural diversity. Being surrounded by such passionate and driven people, both within the cohort and the Multicultural Affairs faculty, helped me expand my cultural awareness and further fueled my dedication to diversity and inclusivity. As a future SLP, these traits are quite necessary.”
During Hispanic Heritage Month, Connie has also been able to reflect on her culture and its huge impact on her goals and vocation.
“I think Hispanic Heritage Month brings awareness to the contributions that the Hispanic community has made. And it provides a space for this population to be seen and celebrated as valuable members of society. It's more than just the food and the festivities. And it's definitely more than just these 30 days. But I think it's important that this month is used to spotlight my community.”
Coming into Baylor, Mendoza had a goal of serving her community. But in her time here, Mendoza has grown her goals and vocations to new heights.
“Initially, I did research on this profession because I wanted to work with kids,” Mendoza said. “But it wasn't until I got into this program that I realized that there's a wide range of groups that need help. Just knowing that I have the opportunity to serve more populations is a real blessing.”
With the need for healthcare professionals on the rise, trailblazers such as Mendoza have led the march to inclusivity in the field of healthcare.
“I specifically want to serve bilingual kids because of the low number of bilingual SLPs.”
Mendoza believes that offering clients the opportunity to receive services in both languages they speak is very important as it aids in treatment outcomes significantly.
“As a Hispanic woman myself, being able to provide those services for those underserved English and Spanish speaking populations is really important.”
Working in the field of communication sciences and disorders, Mendoza has found her calling in a way to serve her community and, hopefully, plant the seeds for the next generation of healthcare professionals.
“Because I have the privilege of serving people from a wide range of backgrounds, being aware of how I can provide respectful and inclusive therapy is essential, especially because communication varies significantly between different cultures and languages,” Mendoza said. “It’s important to be aware of these communication differences and individualize our assessments and interventions to best meet each person’s needs. I think our society is beautifully diverse for a reason, and my time at Baylor has given me various opportunities to help further my own understanding of how to support and advocate for people of all backgrounds.”