Cal State East Bay Student Receives Prestigious Communicative Science Disorders Fellowship

  • BY Cal State East Bay
  • May 15, 2018

Theresa Yao has always wanted to give back to her community and thanks to Cal State East Bay’s Aphasia Treatment Program, she’s not only able to, but has also been selected as a 2018 Albert Schweitzer fellow, a first for the university.

The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship began in 1940 and has grown beyond its initial focus of the Schweitzer Hospital in Lambarene Gabon, Africa and is now global, continuing the legacy and philosophy of the famed Dr. Albert Schweitzer’s influence on community and clinical health. Yao, who considers Dr. Schweitzer a role model, is doing her part to live out his legacy.

Originally from Hong Kong, Yao came to Cal State East Bay in the Fall of 2015 with passion and drive in tow. Back home, she had already received her bachelor’s degree in advertising and her master’s in higher education, but unbeknownst to her, this would not be enough to feed her appetite for achievement.

She began working as a research assistant in a voice and swallowing research lab for almost three years. While there, Yao discovered the field of speech language pathology which would serve as a turning point for her passion prompting her to apply for communicative science disorder programs in the U.S. as a way to help others.

Yao also wanted to know more about Aphasia, which is a communication impairment that usually takes place after some suffer a stroke or traumatic brain injury or tumor.  

“Working with stroke survivors with communication challenges was the most rewarding experience because I got to help people communicate,”Yao said. “That’s why I decided to get more clinical training in the U.S.”   

She began volunteering with Cal State East Bay’s ATP in fall of 2015 and is currently volunteering as choir director for Aphasia Tones which helps individuals communicate through song. She was also the recipient of the 2018 California Speech and Hearing Association award scholarship.

“She is extremely focused and determined and goes above and beyond at every opportunity presented,” said Department Chair for Communicative Sciences & Disorders, Shubha Kashinath who added Yao is also a writing tutor for Communication Sciences & Disorders. “She exudes academic excellence and has a deep-rooted interest in being a leader in this field.”

While Yao is still volunteering with ATP, she is in the process of creating a volunteer program for adults with Aphasia and provide them volunteer training and opportunities to help children’s reading groups in Hayward. Through this project, she is hoping to improve community reintegration of people with Aphasia and raise awareness in local communities.Her ultimate passion lies in doing more research work.