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Chico State

Supporting Others Through Self-Discovery

Talitha MacDonald, wearing an orange turtleneck sleeveless top and black pants, is photographed outdoors standing near a wooden fence.
Matt Bates / University Photographer

As a teacher with 12 years of experience working with middle school students, Talitha MacDonald is no stranger to challenges or change.

Despite her love of teaching and her dedication to her students, a combination of a long work commute, the impacts of teaching during COVID-19, and a desire for change led her to pivot her career, MacDonald (Liberal Studies, ’05) said.

In 2022, she packed up her classroom and accepted a position as the administrative support coordinator (ASC) for Chico State’s Clinic for Communication Disorders.

The clinic is a place of community service and support. Under the supervision of master clinicians in the field of speech-language pathology, graduate students in the Communication Sciences and Disorders (CMSD) program provide free diagnostic and rehabilitative services to the public.

In her role, MacDonald helps manage the clinic and works closely with students, faculty, and clients. The position of ASC—a slower-paced role compared to teaching—has given her the time and space to focus on herself and her own future.

Although she has lived in Chico for 21 years since graduating from Chico State, 14 of those years were spent commuting to Corning where she worked. As a Chico State alumna, returning to campus felt familiar, and coming to work at the University has signified a sort of return-to-self.

“One of the things I love the most about being back at Chico State is that I’m back living and working in this community that I love so much,” she said. “Chico has always made me feel like who I am. Just being here, I feel so much more connected to myself. It’s brought a whole new joy to my life just being here.”

For MacDonald, reconnecting has looked like having more time to take her dog, Frida, on hikes, hosting trivia nights at a local bar, and even coming out at the age of 41. Having supportive co-workers and supervisors at Chico State has made MacDonald feel comfortable about finally expressing her identity.

Not only has her position at the University allowed her to rediscover herself, but it has also allowed her to fully embrace her passion for helping others.

“Thanks to Talitha the Clinic for Communication Disorders is a bright place on campus where everyone feels welcome,” said Jessika Lawrence, CMSD program director. “She bridges the academic and clinical sides of CMSD with her natural ability to engage with students and her genuine care for our community members.”

MacDonald keeps the wheels in motion for the clinic, and the role has allowed her to use her teaching skills to continue working with students.

“The graduate students that are around the age of 24 or 25, are the age of my first eighth-grade graduating class,” she said. “I always wondered what they were going to be like out in the world, and now I kind of get to be a part of that. The students are in a transitional stage of their life, and they still need an adult to help guide them.”