Graduate Miranda Clements: Son with autism inspires degree to help others with special needs

Miranda Clements

Meet Miranda Clements.

Graduate program: M.S. Clinical Speech-Language Pathology
Campus: Flagstaff Mountain Campus

Although Miranda Clements is receiving her master’s of science degree in clinical speech language pathology this weekend, she has arrived at this day following a different path than most. Like many graduates, she worked hard, held full-time jobs while attending school and married at a young age; however, Clements’ path had a few additional curves.

At the age of 18, Clements gave birth to Jacob. Three years later, when a therapist mentioned “autism” for the first time, it was communicated in a less than graceful manner; this experience taught her how parents of children with special needs should and should not be treated.

At 21, Clements and her husband, Austin, discovered new priorities in their life—find a high-quality preschool for Jacob and get him the best resources possible. At this time, their youngest daughter, Madison, was born.

Over the next several years, Clements and her husband designed a life around child care, various therapy appointments and consultations with specialists, all while maintaining a happy and healthy family and married life.

“As a nontraditional student, I needed a university where I knew I would have flexibility and where I would be treated like a human being, rather than just a dollar sign,” Clements said. “At the end of my experience here, I know NAU has given this to me. I was able to achieve my goals in a way that was manageable and unique to my situation, and I felt completely supported the entire time.”

Though Clements admits school had to come second, she maintained a 4.0 grade point average, presented research at state and national conferences, represented NAU Communication Sciences and Disorders in a knowledge bowl competition and served on the Dean’s Student Advisory Council.

Miranda and her family
Miranda Clements with husband, Austin, daughter, Madison, and son, Jacob.

During her two-year graduate program, she commuted to Phoenix every weekend to assist her husband in shuttling the kids to regular family events.

“It is a difficult thing, to leave your family and home for school,” she said. “But my education here has opened my eyes, and changed me for the better. Having completed my bachelor’s degree and now my master’s degree at NAU, I feel that it has truly shaped who I am.”

Clements’ master’s degree will allow her to fulfill her goal of supporting parents and children. This summer, she will work with children who have feeding and swallowing disorders at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Following the externship, she will work as a speech-language pathologist, providing home-health services to individuals with communication difficulties.

NAU Communications