Grad profile: Promoting the power of communication

Spring Convocation: Carmen Lishman, Faculties of Health Professions and Graduate Studies

Ryan McNutt - May 22, 2014

Health Professions grad Carmen Lishman. (Nick Pearce photo)

For Carmen Lishman, there’s something special about Nicaragua.

Well, more like several things. Working there as a conservation biologist after graduating with her Bachelor of Science degree from Dalhousie, she fell in love with the landscape and the people — including her eventual husband — and soon began a new journey that would bring her back to her alma mater.

“I was living in a remote community, and it was difficult for people to get access to education and health care,” explains Carmen, originally from Purple Hill, Ont. “I found I was paying more attention to the needs of the community… many of the animals I was working to protect were going extinct because of human poverty, [because] of people’s need to survive.”

Spending time with local youth, in particular, led to a desire to work in health care, and she decided to return to Canada to earn a master’s degree in speech language pathology from Dalhousie’s School of Human Communication Disorders.

“Communication, by itself, is a superpower,” she explains. “If you can communicate with people effectively, you can get places, and if you can’t it’s much harder… When I see what a speech pathologist can do to help people communicate better, it’s a really powerful experience.”

Upon graduation, she plans on practicing in Canada for a while, but her heart is set on returning to Nicaragua in the near future. She continues to have an impact there through an organization she co-founded called the Purple Hill Humanitarians, which has carried out six community-based projects in the country. She wants to build on that and use her degree to help improve conditions in the country’s smaller communities.

“There are people in Nicaragua who do what we do, but there isn’t a program that trains speech pathologists,” she says. “That’s a skill set I would like to help establish there.”

This article is part of a series on our newest graduates. These profiles are also published in the 2014 Spring Convocation Keepsake, which is distributed at Convocation ceremonies. For more on Convocation (including live webcasts), visit the Convocation website.


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