Mentor: Melissa Johnson, PhD

Mentee: Anna Saylor 

I always find the ANCDS annual meeting to be informative and interesting, as well as an excellent opportunity to network with others and form new relationships. In 2019, I had the added privilege of being a student mentor to Anna Saylor, which added a whole new element to an already wonderful day! Student mentors get paired one-on-one with a Master's or Doctoral student and are asked to simply spend the day with the student.

It began with a lovely, informal breakfast where we got a chance to begin the getting-to-know-you process. As the day progressed from there, we attended the business meeting, educational sessions, and awards luncheon together, sharing insights, ideas, and snippets of conversation along the way.

The mentor's role was also to introduce the students to others at the meeting, helping them to begin to establish the professional network that will enrich their professional lives throughout their careers.As a "seasoned" professional, spending time with the future of our profession was inspiring! The world of neurogenic communication disorders is still new to them and yet they are already contributing to the profession through clinical and research work at their educational institutions.

My student mentee expressed that she is interested in so many aspects of the profession that she can see herself going in any number of directions as the future unfolds! This excitement and passion will serve her and her future patients/clients/families/colleagues immeasurably in the coming years! She and I have communicated by phone and email a number of times and it is both of our intentions to remain connected as we move forward. If I can pave the way for her in any way, I am committed to doing so. And, I will look forward to reading her research, reconnecting with her at future professional events, and learning from her work wherever it may take her.

We will both learn from each other, which is the gift of professional connection! I hope to continue to be a part of the ANCDS student mentor program in the years ahead!