Witnessing first-hand this huge need for increased education and accessible resources, I took the initiative to collaborate with my fellow SLP colleagues and created a nonprofit platform that would function as an all-in-one resource for the community – to support and inform patients and caregivers during and after treatment.
Our educational platform provides access to free online resources, including answers to common questions that have been important to patients along their journeys, thoughtful summaries of peer-reviewed publications, podcasts, and news stories, questions patients may want to keep in mind when visiting the doctor, and lists of local and national support groups and organizations.
Can you think of a particular success story/meaningful moment that demonstrates what Burgundy & White is all about?
In April 2021, Burgundy & White held its first virtual symposium, which featured an interdisciplinary panel of speakers with medical and/or research backgrounds ranging from otolaryngology, oral surgery, engineering, and speech pathology, and a keynote speaker sharing his personal cancer survivorship experience. The symposium was a huge success – with 250 virtual attendees from 22 different countries! Guests were a combination of medical SLPs, students, patients, and community members. Our success and reach with this event inspired us to host more virtual education opportunities in the future and work even harder to grow our organization’s outreach and offerings.
Are there any lessons learned or experiences from your NYU education that you carry into your work today?
The master of science in Communication Sciences and Disorders at NYU offered many opportunities to engage with the community and learn outside the classroom. I was a member of the graduate-level NYU Interprofessional Education Group (IPEG), representing speech pathology within a large group of students in the medical school, dental program, rehabilitation services program, nursing, social work, and dietitian/nutrition programs. Looking back, I feel that my initial passion and interest in interdisciplinary care and education began with IPEG.
I started to learn how it can be difficult for patients to ask questions when they are given a diagnosis because they simply don’t know what to ask.
What advice would you give to an aspiring SLP in the CSD program?
My parents immigrated from China in the late 1980s and settled in Brooklyn. I was born and raised in Brooklyn, and now work in Texas. I learned at home and in school how to be culturally compassionate and responsible as a contributing member of today’s larger diverse society. I would encourage aspiring SLPs in the NYU CSD program to learn, experience, and work with different cultures and backgrounds. It served me well as I went on to found Burgundy & White (in Texas!) and in my practice as a medical SLP.
Another piece of advice is to make time to experience and learn the different aspects of the field – shadow many SLPs and get experience in a variety of settings. The NYU CSD academic courses helped me build a great fundamental knowledge of the clinical work that this profession entails. But, ultimately it was up to me to reach out and learn outside the classroom (and advocate for new roles/opportunities that did not yet exist!) It’s the best way to get a sense of what focus and setting interests you. Reach out to and talk with clinicians to get a better understanding of the job beyond academics.
Finally, do not underestimate your role as a counselor! No matter which area within speech-language pathology you are passionate about, we are always patient advocates first. And with that role comes a fair amount of patient counseling and education.
What are your goals for the future of Burgundy & White?
Our future goals are to collaborate with global patient advocacy communities, develop a discussion portal on our website, improve our fundraising, accounting, and tech services, and of course maybe one day provide remuneration for our board members and staff (we’re all volunteers at this time!). If you are interested in learning more and/or helping with our cause email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!