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A Conversation with Grace LaBranche: From Scholarship Recipient to Speech-Language Pathologist

Updated: May 14

The California Scottish Rite Foundation is dedicated to amplifying voices, especially those of the youth we serve, recognizing the profound impact of communication and connection. Today, we are excited to spotlight a distinctive voice within our community, Grace LaBranche M.S., CCC-SLP, a Speech-Language Pathologist at the RiteCare Childhood Language Center of Bakersfield. However, Grace's involvement with the California Scottish Rite Foundation did not 

start there. 


Grace's remarkable journey began when she pursued higher education to achieve her goal of a career in speech-language pathology. Motivated by her passion for helping others communicate effectively, Grace applied for and was awarded a scholarship from the California Scottish Rite Foundation. This scholarship not only provided financial assistance but also served as a source 

of encouragement, affirming her dedication to her chosen field. 


Her transition from scholarship recipient to esteemed professional highlights the transformative impact of the California Scottish Rite Foundation's scholarship program. With over $200,000 awarded annually to deserving California students, this program serves as a vital investment in tomorrow's future leaders. Grace's story emphasizes the significance of this partnership, as her scholarship enabled her to pursue higher education and ultimately contribute to her personal and professional success as a speech-language pathologist. By supporting individuals like Grace, the foundation not only fosters academic achievement but also cultivates a sense of connection and involvement within the communities it serves. Grace's journey is a testament to the foundation's commitment to empowering individuals to reach their full potential and make meaningful contributions to themselves and their community. 


Recently, we had the privilege of engaging in a meaningful conversation with Grace about her journey with the California Scottish Rite Foundation. We invite you to find out more about her 

story by following along… 

Woman who went from scholarship recipient to speech-language pathologist.

A Conversation with Grace LaBranche M.S., CCC-SLP 


How do you believe being a scholarship recipient has contributed to your long-term career goals and ambitions as a speech-language pathologist? 


Grace LaBranche: “When I received the scholarship, it gave me encouragement knowing that there were people who believed in my education and knew that it would have an impact on future generations of children needing support. The scholarship helped me by ensuring my basic needs were met so I could focus on school and not be worried as much on the financial end of providing for myself. Graduate school is expensive, so any scholarship helps lift a weight off the shoulders.” 


What attracted you to the California Scottish Rite Foundation scholarship and how did you find out about it? 


Grace LaBranche: “I was excited about applying for the scholarship because it was specifically geared towards students pursuing careers in speech- language pathology. It was encouraging because speech pathology is continuing to emerge as a career so I felt like I would have a better chance of receiving a scholarship because it was geared towards a specific group of students. I found about the scholarship through my mother who works as the Office Manager for Bakersfield Scottish Rite. I also knew previous applicants who had applied and received awards.” 


What advice or guidance do you offer to those who are considering applying for the 2024 scholarship opportunities provided by the California Scottish Rite Foundation? 


Grace LaBranche: “The greatest piece of advice I would offer is be yourself in the essay portion of the application. The scholarship committee wants to get to know you on a personal level through your writing.” 


Could you share some of your thoughts on the importance of scholarships in promoting equal access to education and the support of students? 


Grace LaBranche: “Scholarships are a tool to help you stay out of student debt as much as possible. Student loans are possible to pay back, but it takes time. If you’re able to get through school with little debt you’re able to use the money you’ve worked so hard for the way you want to; rather than having to pay for school.” 


In your role as a speech-language pathologist, how do you see yourself making a difference in the lives of your clients and/or their families? 


Grace LaBranche: “I love my job as a speech language pathologist. It is so rewarding to help children find their voices in this world. I also enjoy collaborating with parents and teaching them strategies to be successful with their children in developing language.” 


As a former scholarship recipient currently employed as a speech-language pathologist at a RiteCare Childhood Language Center, what message would you like to convey to both the current donors and potential donors of the California Scottish Rite Foundation? 


Grace LaBranche: “I sincerely appreciate all the past, current, and future donors for investing in the California Scottish Rite Foundation. Your generous donations are funding education for future speech- language pathologists as well as children in need of speech and language services. Every dollar given is impacting a life in a positive way.” 


It's clear from Grace LaBranche's insightful reflections that scholarships, like those provided by the California Scottish Rite Foundation, play a pivotal role in shaping the futures of aspiring professionals. Grace's journey, from scholarship recipient to accomplished speech-language pathologist, highlights the transformative impact of the support from donors, past, present, and future, whose generosity enables the creation of opportunities and changes lives. 


Her words echo the Foundation's unwavering commitment to nurturing future leaders and amplifying voices across the state of California. Grace's success not only brings light to the significance of equal access to education but also the ripple effect of such initiatives, as her work as an speech-language pathologist impacts countless children and families at the RiteCare Childhood Language Center of Bakersfield. 


It is in stories like Grace's where the true heart of the California Scottish Rite Foundation shines. Each member of the community behind the foundation is truly meaningful, and we are thankful every day to have individuals like Grace, our donors, and more who enable us to continuously pursue our mission of empowering lives through education and communication.


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