Hometown(s): Morton, IL
Current Location: Champaign, IL
Current Role: Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) at a Hospital
Nominated By: Anna Tegge, last week’s Ray of Light
Reason for Nomination: Brittany is someone who quietly shares generosity with the world—and doesn’t always get the credit she deserves. Brittany is committed to a life of service in her professional and personal life. Before Corona, she was planning to take a trip to Kenya to serve an organization called ‘Days for Girls.’ She walks humbly and is one of my biggest mentors.
Note: Given her work in the medical field, Brittany asked that I not share her last name or tag her in this post. So, if you know Brittany as well, please follow suit. Thanks!
A Short Bio.
Brittany was born and raised in Morton, a medium-sized city in Central Illinois, alongside her mother, father, and older sister—all of whom she deeply loves. After graduating high school, she moved west, attending Augustana College in Rock Island, IL. There, she studied Communications Sciences and Disorders (CSD), Psychology, and Sociology. Outside of the classroom, Brittany was active member of a service fraternity (Alpha Phi Omega), Augustana College’s Campus Ministries, and Dance Marathon. She also strengthened her commitment to service on spring breaks, voluntarily rebuilding homes in SE Kentucky. Joining her father, roughly 50 other Augustana students, and motley crew of adults, Brittany wielded a drill, a hammer, and friendly conversation, to help form social bonds and rebuild families’ lives.
Graduating from Augustana in 2015, Brittany then pursued her graduate studies in Speech Language Pathology (SLP) at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, TX. After finishing her studies, she graduated from TCU and answered a call to return closer to home. Now, she works as a SLP Level I trauma hospital in Champaign, IL. Due to the very nature of her workplace, Brittany works with patients of all walks of life, who have been afflicted by serious injuries—car accidents, strokes, you name it. Professionally, she aspires to participate in SLP research, mentor new SLPs and SLP students, and continuously grow so that she can best serve her patients.
Outside of work, Brittany loves to travel. Some day she wants to have visited all 50 states. And despite her unimposing frame, she enjoys boxing! Left hook, anyone?!
Brittany’s life has evolved considerably since her younger years, when she aimed to be a “circus star, a treehouse painter, or a jockey in the Kentucky Derby.” Through it all, though, she has remained committed to two things: learning and serving others.
Q & A: The [Not So] Serious
Ben: If I am not mistaken, you are from the “Pumpkin Capital of the World.” So, what is the wildest thing you have carved into a pumpkin?
Brittany: To be honest, I’m a bit of a purest on the pumpkin carving. As a kid, it was always a big deal to draw out my face design for my dad to help me carve. Sometimes we would add ears, hair, a smile reaching from ear-to-ear, etc. People who know me best, know I take pumpkin selection very seriously in the fall. I often say I grew up on the set of a fall Hallmark movie. I think my hometown is adorable.
Ben: If you could time travel, what advice would you give your 18-year-old self?
Brittany: That’s a great question. I have learned so many lessons since then. I think the biggest thing would to tell myself to stop worrying what others think of you and to not be afraid to try a new adventure. The Eleanor Roosevelt quote, “no one can make you feel inferior without your consent” has been pretty transformational in my life.
Ben: Imagine there is a Boeing 747 outside, waiting to take you anywhere in the world right now. Money is not a constraint. Where are you going and why?
Brittany: Ben, you are going to make me choose? Is everywhere an option? There are two places that have been on my mind lately. Domestically, I would love to go to Arches National Park in Utah. It’s been on my radar for a while as a place I’d like to visit because the pictures are absolutely stunning. Internationally, I would love to go to Greece. I want to take in all of its beauty and historical sites. Generally speaking, I love to explore and travel…and I’m a bit of a history nerd. If anyone needs a travel buddy, I’m your girl! If I’m choosing a place I’ve already been to, I adore the Smokey Mountains. Their beauty literally takes my breath away. It’s also a place I’ve been to multiple times with family or through the Augustana Appalachia trip. Each time I travel there, I learn something new about myself.
Ben: Tell about a recent moment when you felt proud to be you. Why do you think you felt this way? And what does this moment say about you?
Brittany: One thing that makes me immensely proud is the work I completed and article that was published related to Parkinson’s disease (PD). I recently learned that other researchers have cited my work in their published research. My grandfather fought hard with PD prior to passing away. In a way, being able to contribute to the research to eventually better diagnose and treat this disease helps me remain connected to him.
In less important news, I have become known as a “baby whisper” when rocking babies at the local crisis nursery. If there is a baby crying, I will not rest until they are snoozing for the evening. I like being able to play a part in helping a little one feel calm and peaceful.
Ben: What three foods could you not live without?
Brittany: Pasta, raspberries, and most importantly, ice cream!
Ben: Brittany, your Christian faith seems to an integral aspect of your life. How have you recently seen God acting in your life, especially amidst the COVID-19 pandemic?
Brittany: So, the last year has been a wild ride for my faith. 2019 started with personal health concerns leading to a surgery and 2020 led off with a global pandemic. When things are status quo, it can be easy to be lulled into a complacent place where you are just going through the motions of your routine, job, relationships, etc. Through this pandemic, there has been so much uncertainty for everyone. My job went from a normal day at work to turned upside down with constant changes in procedures and briefings related to COVID-19. As a healthcare provider, the emotional strain and fear of bringing it home to our loved ones or worrying about our patients/co-workers is endless. As someone who battles anxiety, my faith has grounded me through this. Through it all, I have realized that I don’t just work a job—it’s my calling. The Lord has placed me in the job as a healthcare worker during this historical moment. The reality is, we may never understand the plan God has for all of this. For me, it’s an exercise in my faith and trust in the Lord every single uncertain moment of the day. I’ve seen so many random answered prayers. For instance, I had been dreading to the grocery store and not wanting to get groceries after long days at work. I didn’t have anything to bring to lunch so I figured I’d buy something there. Guess what? A community member specifically purchased food for my unit for lunch that day! I hold onto Joshua 1:9 through all of this. There is not much I can control through this except to continue to give my best to my patients. I’ve truly felt incredible peace settle on me when I am stressed at work. I can only explain it as God’s peace.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
Ben: If you had to adopt a new accent for the rest of your life, what would it be? Why?
Brittany: It would be a strong southern accent. My time spent in the south (both traveling there and living in Texas) were quite formative to me. I love that the accent usually involves a melody and decreased rate of speech. It reminds me to slow down and appreciate the beauty around me.
Ben: How do see that you have grown over the past three years, since graduating from TCU?
Brittany: The biggest area of growth I see in my life is related to my confidence in who I am as a person. Although I believe I will only keep growing in this area, I have been able to realize that I should focus less time on who people perceive me to be, and focus more on who I am as a person, member of a community, coworker, friend, and person of faith. If you want to change the world, you don’t do that by sitting at home scrolling through social media. It’s getting up day after day and doing your absolute best.
Ben: Beach or mountains?
Brittany: I love them both. However, if asked to specifically choose, I would definitely say mountains.
Ben: What are you doing to laugh, stay positive, and practice gratitude during this time of social isolation?
Brittany: Taking lots of walks, reading, writing letters, trying new work-out routines, and journaling.
Ben: Describe your typical day as a Speech Language Pathologist (SLP).
Brittany: What I love about my job, is that each day looks a little different. Currently, I predominately work on a subacute inpatient rehab unit. This means that the patients on my unit receive 3+ hours of therapy a day (split between physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy). Typically, I will be the primary therapist working with 3-5 patients for at least an hour a day. My day starts with chart reviewing, team rounds, and then working with patients in back to back sessions. Speech therapists work on a lot more things than just “speaking.” We also work on regaining functional ability to swallow safely, learning to speak again after a neurological change, and improving cognitive skills like memory, attention, problem solving, organizational skills, reading, writing, finance management, medication management, etc. My case load can vary in age between 13 years of age to 100+ years old. In addition to providing therapy, speech –language pathologists also complete assessments in radiology—often referred to modified barium swallow studies. We work with radiologists and radiology techs to assess functionality of an individual’s swallow by observing an individual swallowing barium and watching “where it goes.” In addition to working in the inpatient rehab unit, I am also the primary float staff member back to the acute care setting of the hospital (neurology, neurosurgery, ICU, emergency room, or other medical floors) to help with swallow and cognition evaluations/treatment. I love being able to work with patients on the acute floors who then come to inpatient rehab. By doing this, I get to walk alongside patients and family members from the start to the end of their hospital stay. I also occasionally cover in the pediatric diagnostic clinic as well. The variety my job offers keeps my skills sharp and allows me to think critically and creatively each day.
Ben: With modern technology and social media, it seems really easy to perceive others’ lives differently than they occur. Given this phenomenon, what do wish the world knew about you that they might not already know?
Brittany: I’m an old soul and wear my heart on my sleeve. Once I choose to call someone a friend, I don’t give up on that relationship. I’m fiercely loyal.
Brittany, it has been a true joy interviewing you and learning more about you. Thank you for bringing joy and healing to others’ lives! With each day, I hope—I pray—that you continue to shine your bright light.