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One student’s successes doesn’t surprise Charisse Gainey, Fayetteville Technical Community College’s Department Chair of the Speech-Language Pathology Assistant Program. Her name is Jasmine McKoy, a 25 year old who lives in Garner. McKoy attended FTCC this year as a “special credits student.” She already earned her bachelor’s degree in speech-language pathology/pathologist, but took courses at FTCC. They qualified her to take a state exam and become a speech-language pathology assistant (SLPA).

“I must admit, we have very good students and many of our students have the skills and such great caliber and tenacity for the profession when they graduate,” Gainey, who taught McKoy, said. “But Jasmine sets herself a part from many others. There are many doors opening for her because she walks in favor.”

One of those doors opened this year.

McKoy earned the honor to speak at the 2017 American Speech-Language Hearing Association’s Convention in Los Angeles in November. Gainey said McKoy was the only SLPA to present while other presenters have already earned their master’s or doctorate degree. Professionals in the field help children and adults with a variety of disorders affecting their speech, language, social communication and more, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s website. At the convention, McKoy presented her research on “The Impact of Socioeconomic Status on Language Acquisition, and The Best Practices for Speech Language Professionals.”

McKoy described herself as “shocked” when she learned her research would reach a national audience. In Los Angeles, people asked questions about her presentation, noting they worked in schools with children from low-income backgrounds. She previously presented the topic this spring at the state convention held in North Carolina.

“I felt happy and excited because I felt I’m doing something right for them to choose me,” she said about presenting. “I felt really accomplished.”

McKoy was one of two students under Gainey who expressed interest in presenting at the national convention this year.

“She was the only one who followed through and did very well,” Gainey said. “Who she is as a student, I wasn’t surprised she was chosen to present.”

McKoy, a Fayetteville native, has known she wanted to work in the medical field since a young age. Her interests leaned toward speech-language pathology after a presentation about the field in high school. After she graduated from North Carolina Agriculture & Technical State University in 2014, she began working at a local Boys & Girls Club of America in Greensboro. A little boy caught her attention. He would attend first grade soon, but he couldn’t read or speak on that level.

“When I had time, I would take him to the side and help him with reading, we had conversations and became really close,” she said. “I sent books with him to read to his mom. The next day, he told me he didn’t read to his mom because she was too busy.”

McKoy added, “It hurt to hear that, and there needs to be some sort of parent involvement in kids’ academics.”

The little boy was the youngest of three brothers to a single parent. McKoy kept working with him. She noticed the changes in his speech and reading.

“I remembered before he left one day, he said, ‘Thank you, Ms. Jasmine,’’ she said, noting that experience inspired her in choosing the research topic she presented at the national convention.

Now, McKoy works as a SLPA at a private practice in Raleigh. She works with children between the ages of two and four. One of her patients, diagnosed with autism, only made “mmhm” sounds or babbles. After two months, he began talking and labeling colors.

“His parents said, ‘We can’t get him to stop talking,’” McKoy said with a laugh, remembering the conversation. “It makes me feel like I’m really making a difference in helping others, not only the child but the family.”

McKoy’s next goal is to receive her master’s degree and continuing research on the connection between children in low socioeconomic homes developing language at a slower rate than others do. McKoy credits FTCC – and Gainey – with helping her succeed so far.

“There are things I got out of this program that I didn’t get out of undergrad, and it’s an excellent program,” she said. “And Mrs. Gainey has been my cheerleader. I couldn’t have done it without her.”

Gainey described McKoy as one of the examples of how the experience earned at a community college is beneficial. She said her students become family and while doing so, blossom into who they are going to be. Gainey didn’t hesitate to answer on where she sees McKoy in the coming years.

“I see her as a colleague in this profession as a SLP,” she said. “This is a profession that she loves so much.”

To learn more about the Speech-Language Pathology Assistant Program at FTCC, visit https://www.faytechcc.edu/academics/health-programs/speech-language-pathology-assistant/