MSC01 1195
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM 87131

UNM AAC Lab Alumni


Lindsay Mansfield completed her B.A. at the University of New Mexico in speech and hearing sciences in May 2013. She is now a first year graduate student and research assistant in the AAC lab.  She is a native of Albuquerque, and after a brief stint working as a flight attendant and traveling the world, Lindsay returned to NM to pursue education and a career in speech-language pathology. When not working in the lab or studying, Lindsay spends her spare time coaching girls basketball at a local high school. She loves working with youth of all ages, on and off the court.  Working in the lab has been Lindsay's first exposure to research, but she enjoys it because it is as rewarding as it is challenging. 


Aimee Bustos

Aimee Bustos earned a B.A. in Psychology from the University of New Mexico in 2004. After graduating, she spent two years as a research coordinator running pharmaceutical trials. She fell in love with the field of speech-language pathology during her three years working as a developmental specialist in early intervention. When not studying or working, Aimee soaks up as much of the beautiful New Mexico outdoors as possible, hiking with her dog, Clementine (a ridiculous looking Boxer rescue).  Aimee is excited to be working for Dr. Binger in the AAC lab. She became passionate about AAC during her first year of graduate school. 


Esther Parkhill

Esther Babej is currently a graduate student working on a Master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology at UNM. She moved to New Mexico after earning a BS in Speech and Hearing Sciences from the University of Washington and deciding it was time to swap the raincoat for the parasol. Esther spent over two years working as a Peace Corps Volunteer in West Africa and hopes to return there upon graduating to put her experience in the AAC lab to good use by establishing an innovative speech therapy practice. When not in the lab, you can find Esther on the dance floor, a coffee shop with a chai tea, or anywhere red velvet cake is sold. 



Kati LeeKati Lee is a graduate student studying speech-language pathology at the University of New Mexico.  She earned her B.S. in Liberal Studies at California State University, Northridge, and her M.A. in Elementary Education from Pepperdine’s Graduate School of Education and Psychology.  She took a hiatus from school while working as a reading intervention specialist in California.  Her bucket list includes visiting Machu Picchu in Peru, Angkor Wat in Cambodia, and Hogwarts Castle in Scotland.  




Photo of Jacquelyn GarciaJacquelyn Garcia is in her last year as an undergraduate.  She is majoring in speech and hearing sciences with a minor in special education.  Jacque was born and raised in Albuquerque, but loves to travel within the United States and abroad.  This is the second summer she has volunteered at Camp Rising Sun working with children who have autism.  This is Jacque’s first time working in a lab and doing research.  She enjoys the hands on experience and learning about research in the AAC lab.  She believes that working in the lab will give her experience and knowledge that she could not get anywhere else.  Jacque enjoys going to the lake, camping, traveling, and spending time with family and friends.


 After leaving her home state of California, Jamie Ragsdale spent nine months in Wisconsin before moving to Albuquerque almost two years ago. Before returning to school, she spent over 10 years working with children with autism implementing Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) interventions. Her goal is to obtain her Ph.D. in communicative disorders and conduct research integrating ABA and AAC approaches. She also is interested in investigating AAC approaches to support the functional communication and independence for children with severe developmental disabilities.



MajaWMaja Whitaker is an undergraduate student at the University of New Mexico studying speech and hearing sciences and Spanish. She is originally from St. Petersburg, Florida, but has lived in Albuquerque for the majority of her life. Maja took interest in the field of speech-language pathology following her medical mission experience with Operation Smile in Santa Cruz, Bolivia in 2010. She drew inspiration from the speech-language pathologist who worked closely with clients who have cleft lips and palates.  Maja enjoys the hands-on experience gained through working with AAC research and applying clinical methods beyond class work.



MerissaMerissa Ekman is in her last year as an undergraduate. She is a dual major in Speech and Hearing Sciences and Signed Language Interpreting. She loves to volunteer in the community. She has volunteered for two years at Camp Rising Sun working with children with autism and cannot wait to volunteer again in the summer.  Merissa enjoys the hands-on and real world experience that she gets from working in the AAC lab. She has an interest in AAC and autism, which she plans to pursue in graduate school. She is addicted to green Chile and is excited to continue learning everything she can while working in the lab.



Elijia Buenviaje is currently a senior at the University of New Mexico majoring in both speech and hearing sciences and psychology.  She prefers to go by Lee because it is easier for most people.  Lee was born and raised in Albuquerque!  She likes working in the lab because everyone in there is so nice and helpful even though this is the first time she has done any research.  She believes she has learned much more about AAC while working in the lab than she could have ever learned in an undergraduate class, and is sure that she will learn much more! Lee has three dogs named Eli, Bella and Cupcake.


JanaJana Haas is a graduate student studying speech-language pathology at the University of New Mexico.  She received her B.S. in Elementary Education with a minor in Mathematics and M.A. in Special Education with a concentration In Learning and Behavioral Exceptionalities from the University of New Mexico.  She enjoys learning new music on the violin, traveling, and spending time with her rescue dogs Lizzie, a German shepherd mix, and Dashia, a black Labrador retriever mix.



MarikaMarika King is a graduate student in speech-language pathology at the University of New Mexico. She received her B.A. in speech and hearing sciences at the University of New Mexico in May of 2012. She is the fifth child in a family of eight and grew up in Connecticut and upstate New York.  After graduating from high school she spent a year in southern Mexico volunteering at a children's home.  She moved to New Mexico in 2008 to begin studying speech-language pathology. Marika began working in Cathy Binger's AAC lab during her junior year of undergraduate study. Although speech and language have always fascinated Marika, working in the lab was her first introduction to AAC.  This experience has inspired her to continue researching and learning more about AAC.

VictoriaOVictoria Ortega is currently in her last year as an undergraduate in Speech and Hearing Sciences. She is originally from Colorado and moved to Albuquerque to pursue her degree. She became interested in speech-language pathology after working with several therapists as a special education therapy assistant at a Headstart program in Colorado. She is excited to join the AAC lab this year and is looking forward to learning more about the research process. She is particularly interested in early intervention and AAC.