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Arnold School of Public Health

Pamela Dominguez

Communication sciences and disorders student wins second national award from American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

October 2, 2019 | Erin Bluvas, bluvase@sc.edu

Pamela Dominguez has had the unique opportunity of attaining an array of clinical experiences as a high school and community college student. Growing up in a suburb north of Baltimore, Maryland, Dominguez first gained exposure to the nursing field – working as a nursing assistant in hospitals, public schools and home health. 

“I love the healthcare field and knew I belonged there,” she says. “After gaining so much experience, I found out that there are more diverse occupations in the field than just doctors and nurses. Speech-language pathology stole my heart almost instantly once I learned more about it.”

After graduating from Harford Community College, Dominguez enrolled in a bachelor’s in hearing and speech sciences program at the University of Maryland. It was there that she met professor Nan Bernstein Ratner, who helped the first-generation college student navigate her transfer and integration into the university setting and the field of communication sciences and disorders (COMD). Under Ratner’s mentorship, Dominguez won a PROmoting the next GENeration of Researchers (PROGENY) Award from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).

Speech-language pathology stole my heart almost instantly once I learned more about it.

-Pamela Dominguez, Master of Science-Residential in Speech-Language Pathology student

Ratner also introduced Dominguez to Arnold School COMD professor Julius Fridriksson, whose research focuses on understanding and treating aphasia, a communication disorder following stroke or other brain injury that may impact the individual’s ability to read, write, speak or understand language. This introduction, coupled with an on-campus visit to the COMD department and its Montgomery Speech, Hearing, and Language Clinic, helped Dominguez make her final decision when choosing a graduate program to further her studies.

“I heavily focused my decision based on research, and when I came to tour Dr. Fridriksson’s Aphasia Lab, I saw the myriad of possibilities that I could explore if I came here,” she says.  

Dominguez began her program in August and immediately jumped into the Lab’s research projects as a graduate assistant. With support from both of her mentors, she recently secured her second PROGENY Award, which involves a formal mentorship program and a scientific presentation at the 2019 ASHA Convention. The poster that she submitted in consideration for the award received the second highest review rating of any undergraduate first-authored paper in the nation.  

I feel fortunate to have great people here who know so much about their specialties, and it inspires me to work harder towards my career goals.

-Pamela Dominguez, Master of Science-Residential in Speech-Language Pathology student

“I have already received so much support from all of the faculty members in the COMD department,” Dominguez says. “Dr. Fridriksson, Dr. Spell and all of the clinical supervisors do a really great job of exposing me to as much as possible to help me develop my interests and refine my skills. I feel fortunate to have great people here who know so much about their specialties, and it inspires me to work harder towards my career goals.”

Those goals include working as a speech-language pathologist in various settings after graduating with a Master of Science – Residential in Speech-Language Pathology in 2021. She then plans to return to graduate school to earn a Ph.D. in the area that she finds most interesting through her clinical experiences.

For those interested in a similar path, Dominguez has two pieces of advice: 1 – whether it’s for the closest bubble tea spot or which graduate school program to attend, do your research; 2 – professionals were once novices before they mastered their skills and it’s important to challenge yourself in order to grow, so don’t be afraid to make mistakes.


Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.

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