“Where are they now?” Checking in with recent graduate, Dr. Jessica Gormley

As we continue to recruit new students for the AAC Leadership Project, one of the best ways to show the impact of the program is to highlight the successes of past scholars and the contributions they are making to the AAC field.

Today, we would like to feature Dr. Jessica Gormley, who was part of the AAC Leadership Project from 2016-2019. 

Jessica is now an Assistant Professor at the Munroe-Meyer Institute and the Program Leader for AAC Implementation. In her new position, Jessica has taken on many roles including developing and expanding AAC programming at the Munroe-Meyer Institute, providing clinical services to children and adults with complex communication needs in inpatient and outpatient settings, and providing clinical teaching to pre-service speech-language pathologists and other interdisciplinary team members.

Jessica is also busy actively conducting research in AAC. Her primary research interest is ensuring that children with communication and language disabilities are provided healthcare that meets their unique needs in a developmentally-appropriate manner. For this to happen, healthcare providers must be equipped with the skills to support child participation in these interactions. Specifically, her research aims to develop and evaluate partner trainings aimed to teach providers how to effectively communicate with children who rely on AAC during healthcare interactions.

When asked how the AAC Leadership project prepared Jessica for her current position, she shared:
There are multiple ways that the AAC Leadership Project prepared me for my current position. First and foremost, I was able to observe leading experts in AAC research and teaching in action throughout the entirety of the program. Through participation in specialized AAC coursework, I was able to build a solid foundation of knowledge related to evidence-based AAC practices and identify knowledge gaps to inform my future research and teaching efforts. Through mentored research experiences, I was able to participate in a variety of research projects to learn from expert AAC researchers and was able to practice designing and completing my own projects. Through mentored teaching experiences, I was able to learn evidence-based instructional strategies and had multiple opportunities to apply these strategies in the classroom.
Photo of Jessica Gormley at ISAACJessica’s advice to those who are considering to apply for the grant: 
Do it! The AAC training at Penn State is unparalleled! If you are looking to positively impact the lives of individuals with complex communication needs, their families, and providers, there is no better place in the world to gain the research and teaching skills to make this vision a reality!
Many thanks to Jessica for sharing her experience and advice!
The AAC Leadership Project is a doctoral fellowship program, funded by the U.S. Department of Education (H325D170024). If you would like more information, click here.   

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