Dr. Samantha Washington has been at Southeast Missouri State University for four years now. One of her main goals was getting her students a wide variety of real-world experience, especially with cultures outside of Missouri.


Washington is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication Disorders at Southeast. The Department of Communication Disorders includes the study of language, speech and hearing, as well as communication disorders. Many students go on to continue graduate studies and become speech and hearing pathologists. 

Washington teaches a wide variety of subjects, but one she is particularly passionate about is clinical practicum.  

One of the common themes Washington noticed in her classroom, especially in student journal entries, was that they are not exposed to different cultures. She wanted to find a way to not only teach students about different cultures, but immerse them in cultural experiences. She wanted students to understand the differences in treating and evaluating patients from all over the world. 

She started with a week-long professional development trip with students in Belize in 2022. They took another trip to Guatemala in May 2023. In this remote village, they were able to provide hands-on care and get an experience unlike any other. 

"There's something to be said about learning through a textbook and videos you can watch in class versus actually being there and feeling the emotions of the parents," Washington said. 

While in Guatemala, students worked directly with children and their parents. They were physically immersed in the new culture. 

The students learned how to conduct assessments with those who are culturally diverse and may speak another language. They also were able to provide things like parent education, which furthered their experience handling themselves in situations outside their comfort zone. 

The Department of Communications Disorders touts hands-on learning. While they do get it on campus, the trips across the sea add a global level to their experiential learning. This is something that Washington, and the entire department, is super passionate about maintaining. 

"It is very rare you find a group of colleagues who are just as passionate about the field," Washington said about her colleagues. "As passionate in investing in the students who are in your program as you are. I think that's the best part, because we work really well together. We do all that we can to make our learning experiences across our classrooms meaningful."

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