Back Row: Andrew Gowman
Jessica's parents instilled in her the respect for and curiosity to learn about different cultures and peoples. She has undergraduate degrees in Spanish and Latin American Caribbean Studies from the University of Michigan and a Master's degree in Spanish literature from Loyola University Chicago. She speaks "fluent Spanish and passable Portuguese."
Jessica and her husband have two daughters. She is teaching them Spanish and her husband is teaching them Russian. It was an experience Jessica had with her pediatrician that began her interest in speech and language pathology, as well as her current research interest. She looks forward to becoming a speech and language therapist with "the ability to empower other children the way my daughter has been helped."
Jessica writes that the Brehm Scholarship will be "life changing" and will help her not only with her coursework, but also with her research. Because of her personal experience she plans to pursue the issue of pediatricians' referrals to speech/language pathologists. She hopes to interview pediatricians in order to understand their knowledge and awareness of speech and communication disorders and to ascertain at what age they start to refer children to a speech therapist. Jessica's long-term goals include working with children, conducting research, and eventually teaching. The Brehm Scholarship will give her the opportunity to conduct her research in a close partnership with an EMU professor as she continues to work toward her degree in speech/language pathology.
Ashley has a younger brother on the autism spectrum and the acceptance of all individuals with disabilities seems innate to her. She knows her sole purpose is to learn as much as she can in order to understand and teach those individuals with autism and other communication disorders.
Ashley has volunteered in a 4th grade classroom and this has given her experience in working with students who have a variety of disabilities. She is also involved in Literacy Corps, reading with small groups of children who have autism. Ashley is also an active member of EMU's National Student Speech-Hearing-Language Association and volunteers at the Autism Collaborative Center.
Ashley hopes to combine her passion for speech/language pathology and for individuals on the autism spectrum as she continues her coursework and begins her research. Being a Brehm Scholar will afford her the life-changing opportunity to conduct her own research in the area of receptive language and theory of mind in individuals with autism.
Andrew's (Andy) path to becoming a teacher has been "a long journey of self-discovery". He had first-hand experience with special education as a student with math and reading challenges. By the time Andy was in 11th grade, his skills had increased "exponentially" and he continued to "blossom".
It was while Andy was an undergraduate student at Baker College, majoring in graphic design, that he had his first taste of teaching. His professors noticed his affinity for helping his classmates and offered him a position as a teaching assistant in the department. "Over time, I began to realize that teaching was my true passion. By the time my undergraduate program came to a close, I knew that I wanted to have a career that included teaching."
After graduation Andy took a job at a studio, photographing children. This experience further cemented his desire to become a teacher. He chose EMU's SEM-T program mainly because of his own personal experience in special education. He remembers the difference special educators made in his life when he was a struggling learner and believes he can provide the instruction, supports, and adaptations necessary for student success. He views being a Brehm Scholar as an opportunity to collaborate with a faculty member on a topic meaningful to the field of special education. He believes this experience will prepare him to not only teach, but also to continue his professional development and to become a leader in the field of special education.
Andrew (Drew) comes from a family of educators in which schooling was always a priority. He began his education at Henry Ford Community College in pharmacy, but soon was influenced to pursue special education at EMU. Drew has a genetic eye disorder, Blue Cone Monochromacy, which renders him low vision and color blind. This disability has "thrown some obstacles my way throughout life, but nothing that wasn't manageable". Drew aspires to be able to do the job that his "amazing" teachers and consultants did. He feels that he can help his future students not only with academic objectives, but also help them through personal and emotional situations.
Drew strongly believes that EMU, its program, professors, and fellow students, has taught him a great deal about community and society. He strives to give back to special education and to the visually impaired community because of what he was given as he was growing up.
Drew is minoring in biology and sees being a Brehm Scholar as an opportunity to conduct research within two specialty fields: visual impairment and biology. He sees this opportunity as a way to become more knowledgeable and to gain a deeper understanding of the field of special education.
Ruth has an undergraduate degree from Robert Morris University in English. She returned to her home in Ann Arbor after graduation and, after a series of temporary positions as a tutor and a camp counselor, she realized that she had a longing to become an educator. An experience with a mother and her nine children who moved into her neighborhood further developed her interest in education. She enrolled in EMU's SEM-T program with a focus in students with emotional impairment.
Ruth chose an endorsement in emotional impairment because she wanted the skill set necessary for working with students who are at risk of school failure due to outside elements. She feels that she has many skills and talents that make her an excellent candidate for becoming a special educator. She is a visual learner and a creative thinker. She plays the guitar and accordion, can draw, and is working on a graphic novel. She believes that these creative skills will serve her well in the classroom.
Ruth sees the Brehm scholarship as helping her to fulfill her goal of completing her master's degree before she begins her teaching career, since she feels this will allow her to be as thoroughly prepared as possible. She also views being a Brehm Scholar as an opportunity to become involved in research. Her interests are in finding, creating, and implementing a concrete plan for bridging the communication gap between general and special educators. She is interested in "identifying a way to help all teachers bring relevancy to the public school curriculum especially in areas such as math and science, and to truly practice differentiated instruction."
Mary feels that her determination is one aspect of her character that will help her become a successful special educator. She started ballet at the age of three and continues to spend 15-20 hours each week in class and rehearsals. Although her dreams of becoming a professional dancer were dashed when she was a senior in high school, she found a new passion in teaching.
While at EMU, Mary has been active in her sorority, is involved in the dance department performances, and is a tutor at the Holman Success Center. She tutors in chemistry (her minor), math, and special education courses, and has recently been promoted to Tutor Team Leader, supervising peer tutors.
Mary is an out-of-state of student and sees the Brehm scholarship as helping her financially through this next year. More importantly, she sees being a Brehm Scholar as an opportunity to further her knowledge of the special education field through research.
Kathlene received her undergraduate degree from Western Michigan University in speech/language pathology and audiology with minors in psychology and elementary education. For the past four years, she has worked in a home program for a young boy with autism and it is this experience that has given her the drive to become a speech and language therapist focusing on communication.
Kathlene has volunteered at EMU's Autism Collaborative Center S.P.L.A.S.H. Camp and this experience has increased her desire to work with children with autism, their families, and other professionals. She feels that her program at EMU has given her the opportunity to work with outstanding faculty and has equipped her with the resources and skills necessary to meet her career goal.
Kathlene has an interest in research and feels that being a Brehm Scholar will give her a significant amount of motivation to conduct her own original investigation. She is interested in examining the different roles and expectations of parents and professionals involved in the use of augmentative and alternative devices among children with autism. Her research has the potential for improving the care for individuals with autism.
Benjamin did not have a life-long dream of being an educator. Growing up with educators, he knew about the endless in-services, meetings, and parent conferences. It wasn't until his job as a paraprofessional at an elementary school that he decided he wanted to be a special educator. This opportunity opened the door to his journey into the study of special education. He desires to enter the field because the team that supports students consists of a diverse community that directly impacts the future and he wants to be a member of that team!
Benjamin completed an Associate's Degree from Oakland Community College in mental health and social work. He knew that EMU was the place for him to pursue his bachelor's degree because of the Special Education Department's commitment to education and advocacy – two of Benjamin's goals. As a student leader on campus, Benjamin has had numerous opportunities to advocate and to learn. Through his involvement in the Student Council for Exceptional Children, Benjamin has traveled to Washington, D.C. each summer to advocate on behalf of pre-service teachers.
Benjamin sees being a Brehm Scholar as an opportunity to expand his education and to increase his ability to advocate. He is excited about conducting his own research since it allows him to take complete ownership for his quest for knowledge. He hopes to research how to engage parents in the development and implementation of individualized education plans (IEP's).