Ep. 68: Dr. Elise Davis-McFarland - Unequal Dreams


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Apr 18 2019 38 mins   1

What do Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor, academy award winning actor Leonardo de Caprio, designer Ralph Lauren, and entertainment mogul Jay Z have in common? They all grew up poor. Their success is enviable, but breaking the cycle of poverty is a mammoth task; one that requires educational opportunities that compensate for the disadvantages created by the socio-economic gap, appropriate structural support, and exposure to the larger world. Every young mind has the right to dream big, but not all dreams are destined to become a reality.

On this episode, Elise Davis-McFarland, the Immediate Past President of American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA 2019) and an ASHA Fellow, discusses how poverty is a serious condition and a potential cause of deprivation and educating students from low income families warrants more than just tolerance, but strong cultural competence. Robust Executive Function and self-regulation are essential ingredients for raising independent children, but ongoing environmental stressors and economics adversity can prove to be an obstacle in bringing forth future-ready children.

About Dr. Elise Davis-McFarland
Dr. Elise Davis-McFarland has enjoyed a rewarding career in higher education that includes teaching, development, and leadership of speech-language pathology programs; research; and executive-level college administration. She began her career as a school speech-language pathologist (SLP) in North Carolina where she provided diagnostic and therapeutic services for children in pre- and elementary schools. Following an audiology internship at the VA and Duke Hospitals and graduate study, she joined the faculty of the University of Houston as an assistant professor where she taught graduate courses in language development, childhood language disorders, early literacy development, and assessment and diagnosis of childhood communication disorders.

In Charleston, South Carolina—in the absence of an academic program in her discipline—she took advantage of new experiences, first as vice president of Governmental Affairs for the Charleston Chamber of Commerce and later as Director of Institutional Research at The Citadel. Dr. Davis-McFarland was also elected as a commissioner for the state’s Medicaid program by the South Carolina Legislature. At the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), as an associate professor the opportunity to develop and lead the interdisciplinary graduate Communication Sciences and Disorders program in the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences where Occupational and Physical Therapy programs were housed led to a teaching award and to her research at the MUSC hospital. Later, she became Vice President for Student Affairs at Trident College, where she provided executive-level leadership and supported the successful matriculation of students with autism and Asperger’s Syndrome into the college. 

Dr. Davis-McFarland is an ASHA Fellow.  Her service to ASHA includes membership on the Committee on Practice Guidelines for SLPs, the Professional Practices Committee, the Ethics Committee, the Executive Board Subcommittee on Examination Performance, and the Multicultural Issues Board. She was one of ASHA’s representatives on the committee formed by ASHA and the International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care (IAPAC). She chaired the Committee on Honors and was the coordinator for SIG 14. Until her election as ASHA’s president-elect she served on the SLP Advisory Council as a representative from South Carolina, and the SIG 17 Coordinating Committee. She has also been a reviewer for Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools and the African Journal of AIDS Research. Her areas of research and publication include speech and language development in infants and children

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