CEHS Student Ambassador, rising senior Jacinda Hickman, always knew that she wanted to pursue a job that would allow her to impact the lives others. Born into a family with a history of hearing loss, Hickman learned sign language before she learned to speak.
“It’s kind of like how babies learn baby signs, but I just continued to do that throughout my life,” Hickman said. “I use that to communicate with my parents.”
Hickman’s parents are both deaf – her mother is profoundly deaf, and her father uses a hearing aid, but communicates primarily using sign language. One of Hickman’s two sisters is also deaf in one ear. Working to help others communicate was something that Hickman had been doing her whole life, but she didn’t know that it could be her career.
When she started evaluating her college options as a high school student, Hickman discovered CEHS’ speech pathology and audiology major. After viewing the courses within the program, she was confident that she had found her fit.
“It was perfect,” Hickman said. “It was exactly me. So, I decided to pursue that and I stuck with it.”
When she started her freshman year at WVU, Hickman was intimidated by the strict requirements for acceptance into the program. At the time, only the 45 students with the top GPAs after their first two years of college gained admission. The rest had to choose other majors.
Hickman was hesitant to follow through with the program, knowing that making the cut would be a challenge. Still, she persevered after realizing that speech pathology and audiology was her clear choice after taking Introduction to Communication Disorders.
“It was the foundation of everything, a brief overview,” Hickman said. “But it was really cool to learn about everything in the field in just one class. It got me really excited for the major.”
Having finished her junior year, her first as an official speech pathology and audiology student, Hickman is grateful that she stuck with the program and continues to thrive in her program coursework. Her favorite course this past year, and one of the more difficult courses in the program, was Phonetics.
“Everyone thinks I’m crazy, but I really enjoyed taking my phonetics class,” Hickman said. “I’d say I was kind of good at it. I still find myself transcribing speech in my mind.”
To become more involved at CEHS, Hickman applied to become one of the College’s Student Ambassadors, a role that she’s served in for the past three years. As a Student Ambassador, she’s had the opportunity to attend various recruitment events and get to know the College’s incoming students. She enjoys maintaining those relationships after the students enroll.
“It was nice to get to see them, see their schedules and give them tips on what professors to take and what to do when traveling between campuses,” Hickman said. “They care about me, and I care about them. It’s a really great thing.”
And when she’s working as a Student Ambassador, Hickman shares her freshman year experience with potential speech pathology and audiology students.
“I always tell my students on tours that if this is what you want to do, you have to fight, you have to study,” Hickman said. “You have to give it your all, because it’s what you’re passionate about.”
As she prepares for her senior year and hopes to enter CEHS’ master’s program in speech-language pathology, Hickman is about to reap the rewards of her hard work.
“There were times, all through my pre-major courses, that I just wasn’t sure that I was going to make it,” Hickman said. “But I did make it, and I can look back and say that it was so worth it.”