A Few Minutes With… Episode 28 | College of Applied Health Sciences at Illinois


VINCE LARA: This is
Vince Lara in the College of Applied Health Sciences at
the University of Illinois. Today I spent a few
minutes with John Consalvi, winner of the 2019
Distinguished Alumni Award and a graduate of the speech
and hearing science department at AHS. I asked John what sparked his
interest in language pathology. JOHN CONSALVI: My
father was an immigrant, and he acquired English
as a second language. So I always saw– you know, people always
assume that he wasn’t as great as he was because he couldn’t
communicate as well in English. And I always thought that
was kind of fascinating. We sometimes judge people
on their language skills when it might just
be that they’re acquiring a new language. I also saw a lot
of students that were struggling to communicate
when I was in grade school. And I thought, hm, that’s
kind of interesting. I didn’t really want to be a
teacher when I thought maybe clinically, there was
something that I could do to assist the students. VINCE LARA: What made
you pick Illinois? JOHN CONSALVI: Well, my
mentor, Joan Good Erickson, wrote one of the– I think it was the
first book on serving bilingual and multicultural
children with disabilities. So she was here, and I
came and saw the program. And I told her and
other people that I was interested in becoming
a bilingual speech language pathologist. And the University of
Illinois was totally welcoming and supportive of me. They loved the fact that I
was doing something different, that I was thinking
outside the box, I guess. And they welcomed me
into the grad program. VINCE LARA: And why Spanish? JOHN CONSALVI: I believe
that it seemed practical that the largest population in
our country, second to English, was Spanish-speaking. And I did live in a suburb
that was close to communities of Spanish-speaking children. And I think I identified
with those children and that population. And it was a
population that I think was misunderstood and needed
more sophisticated and better quality services in the realm
of education and speech language pathology. VINCE LARA: Now, the company
you own now, which is Sped– JOHN CONSALVI: SPEDXchange. VINCE LARA: SPEDXchange? JOHN CONSALVI: Yes. VINCE LARA: OK, so
SPEDXchange– it focuses on services to special
needs students, correct? JOHN CONSALVI: Well,
SPEDXchange is a platform to help get answers on
any question related to special education,
speech language pathology, occupational therapy
for school settings. The concept is that we
have a community of people that can answer
questions that have been posed to the community. And it might be in any
of a number of realms. Could be parents. It could be new clinicians
looking for a therapeutic idea. It could be somebody wondering
about special education law. Could be an
administrator looking to figure out how to
best hire clinicians for their department. So it’s really a platform
that special educators will use to improve services
and expand their knowledge and build more of a networking
relationship with their peers. VINCE LARA: Gotcha. Now, this award– what
does it mean to you to come back and receive
an award like that? JOHN CONSALVI: Wow. I mean, it means a lot to me. I love the University
of Illinois. It was a huge part
of my education. My daughter is a student here. You know, it’s
like having a home. Like, coming back to the
University of Illinois really is like
having a home base. I did a lot of challenging
things, dangerous things when I left the
University of Illinois. I went to work in an
orphanage in Guatemala. There was still a
civil war there. I spent some time in
Nicaragua and El Salvador at that time working
with populations, trying to make their lives better. And that really kind of– getting back here safe and sound
and starting my career really makes this more meaningful to
me because I made the decision to go and work abroad
and take these challenges at the University of Illinois. And then when I left,
I was kind of alone. So coming back as a
professional and supported was just the best thing
and means a lot to me. VINCE LARA: My thanks
to John Consalvi. This has been A
Few Minutes With.

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