Sunday, November 20, 2016

My SLP Story

Anthropology, English, Liberal Studies – OH MY!  Those were three of the FOUR different majors I declared by the time I was a junior in college, September 1979. By the junior year, we were supposed to know what we wanted to do. Ugh. Not me. I know I sound scattered-brained, but I had NO IDEA what to do. I loved Zoology, Botany and thought about taking a course in Genetics as well. Maybe I would become a geneticist. And then I became completely fascinated with the idea of majoring in Library Science and that was BEFORE technology took off! Wait, wait, wait--I forgot about my Latin course! Loved it and the professor was wonderful. Maybe I needed to major in a foreign language (already had six years of Spanish under my belt taken 7th through 12th grades). Yep, I was a hot mess when it came right down to making this decision. So, what did I do that first semester of the junior year? Why, I signed up for many different courses – including a second year of Latin and two classes from the department of Speech Pathology and Audiology at California State University, Sacramento.

Then IT happened. The first two weeks of those two SLP courses changed my direction in life FOREVER. Why on Earth did I make a life-altering decision in less than two weeks? Reason 1) The first SLP course was Language Development, taught by professor Dr. Colette Coleman. We’re talking sentence diagrams, language sampling, developmental charts, etc. Loved the topics and loved the professor. Reason 2) The second SLP course was Phonetics, taught by Dr. Morris Val Jones. I was completely enthralled learning the IPA, linguistics and transcription. Hmmm...this field sounded intriguing, so I asked some questions and did a little research. Later courses would involve a lot of anatomy and physiology, more on language development, and lots of other cool-sounding stuff. Yep, this was IT!!! I dumped everything else and jumped into Speech-Language Pathology. Yes, I knew it would be four years and two degrees, but that was totally fine. 

Little did I know that of the sixty (60) SLP students who started that semester, only nine (9) of us would walk across the stage at CSUS to accept our Master’s degrees. Dr. Mary Jane Rees warned all of us as juniors that very few would finish the program. I couldn’t believe what she was telling us, but remember resolving on the spot that I would be one of those who would finish. Don’t ever tell me I can’t do something!

Cool coincidence…. Remember those first two professors I mentioned? They became the first and second readers for my Master’s thesis. Let me tell you writing a thesis is a LOT of work, but there is no better way to become an proficient at deciphering research articles than to conduct your own study!

Looking back, the only regret I have is dropping the second year course in Latin. A few years ago, I found my former Latin professor online and emailed him telling him how much I enjoyed the first year and that I sincerely regretted not taking the second year.

32 years, dozens of schools, hundreds of students and patients later, I'm still happy I made this career choice. While I do think big changes need to happen in the public school setting, I still love being a part of changing student's lives and helping patients in the acute setting. I wouldn't trade it for the world! 

What's your SLP story?


  1. First thought: Wow, Tracy; you're older than I am! (Ha, ha!!!)
    Second thought: It's nice to know I wasn't the only one floundering about, not knowing what I wanted to do. But, when you find it, you find it!!

  2. I am loving reading these stories. Tracy, I can relate. I thought about becoming a forest ranger, a geologist, an ocean biologist and a reporter. Too many interesting fields too explore when you are young and trying to make those life decisions! So glad you decided to join the SLP ranks.

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  4. What a great story. It's funny, like you, I figured I would succeed in whatever field I chose. Lucky for me, I only focused on speech-language pathology! You are a renaissance woman, indeed!

  5. It seems like the running theme among us is that very few of us actually knew what we wanted to major in! lol
    Great choice of career! I'm so glad you shared!

  6. Great story! I think that our field encompasses so many disciplines, it is perfect for the varied interests we all have!

  7. Oh my goodness, your story is similar to mine. I changed my major a million times-I kind of think now that I just wanted to learn everything. I agree with Linda, this is a perfect field for those are have so many interests.