Undaunted by Distance In 2009, we were matched through the ASHA Student to Empowered Professional (STEP) program, which pairs students with experienced mentors based on a similar interest, work setting, or location. What seemed like an improbable partnership between Nisreen in Saudia Arabia and Molly in Alaska soon evolved into an enduring friendship. ... First Person on the Last Page
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First Person on the Last Page  |   August 01, 2010
Undaunted by Distance
Author Notes
  • Nisreen Shakalli, is a Syrian SLP in Al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Jordan University of Science and Technology in 2008 and has worked with children with hearing loss, Down syndrome, and learning disabilities. Contact her at nisreen_slp@yahoo.com.
    Nisreen Shakalli, is a Syrian SLP in Al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Jordan University of Science and Technology in 2008 and has worked with children with hearing loss, Down syndrome, and learning disabilities. Contact her at nisreen_slp@yahoo.com.×
  • Molly Thompson, MS, CCC-SLP, is an SLP in private practice in Anchorage, Alaska. Contact her at polarspeech@yahoo.com.
    Molly Thompson, MS, CCC-SLP, is an SLP in private practice in Anchorage, Alaska. Contact her at polarspeech@yahoo.com.×
Article Information
Professional Issues & Training / First Person on the Last Page
First Person on the Last Page   |   August 01, 2010
Undaunted by Distance
The ASHA Leader, August 2010, Vol. 15, 39. doi:10.1044/leader.FPLP.15102010.39
The ASHA Leader, August 2010, Vol. 15, 39. doi:10.1044/leader.FPLP.15102010.39
In 2009, we were matched through the ASHA Student to Empowered Professional (STEP) program, which pairs students with experienced mentors based on a similar interest, work setting, or location. What seemed like an improbable partnership between Nisreen in Saudia Arabia and Molly in Alaska soon evolved into an enduring friendship. Below are our reflections on what makes a great mentor-mentee relationship.
Nisreen
After I began my new job, I sought an experienced speech-language pathologist who I could learn from. I surfed the Internet and joined the ASHA Facebook page, which had a link to the STEP mentoring program. Less than a month after completing a registration form, I received a message from Molly.
I still remember that first message, in which Molly introduced herself and asked about my goals. We shared our cultures and updates about our work through the Internet, e-mail, and photos. Most valuable to me were the precious books and tools she sent. I asked her questions about my cases, reports, treatment plans, and professional issues. She always provided the perfect response. Based on our discussions, I even presented a lecture to increase the awareness of speech-language pathology. There is a significant lack of speech-language pathologists in Saudi Arabia and in my hometown of Damascus, Syria. Few universities in the region offer academic programs related to speech-language pathology—Saudi Arabia has only one program and Syria has none.
The mentoring year passed quickly and was full of learning and discovering new things that will help me for many years. It was not just a mentoring partnership, but a friendship of caring and sharing. I met a person who represented herself and her association in a unique way.
Molly
It was the geographical irony that first got my attention. My STEP mentee lived in Saudi Arabia. I lived in Alaska. Although it may have appeared to be a great divide of miles and culture, once we began to e-mail each other it was clear that we were a great match. Nisreen is energetic and creative with her caseload. Her questions led me to review the treatment methods and research I employ in my private practice. Our conversations reinforced that our profession can make a difference, no matter where we live.
Through volunteering in the very large state of Alaska with the state speech-language-hearing association, I found that our members share ideas and information despite our distance from one another. Through STEP I hoped to share the joys of our profession with a new SLP interested in professional and educational contact.
The best part of the mentoring relationship was the friendship that emerged. Facebook is where Nisreen first heard about the ASHA mentoring program and it became a daily connection for us as well. We have shared not only work, but our daily joys and sorrows. Our mentoring year is over, but our friendship will continue. We are only a keyboard click away.
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August 2010
Volume 15, Issue 10