Mother, Daughter Plunge Together into SLP Program The Johnson house isn’t seeing much sleep these days. While the rest of the households in the quiet New Jersey neighborhood slumber peacefully in the dark, Lawrence Johnson works on call 24 hours a day as an assistant supervisor for the New Jersey Transit system, and wife Stacey and daughter ... Features
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Features  |   March 01, 2011
Mother, Daughter Plunge Together into SLP Program
Author Notes
  • Kellie Rowden-Racette, print and online editor for The ASHA Leader, can be reached at krowden-racette@asha.org.
    Kellie Rowden-Racette, print and online editor for The ASHA Leader, can be reached at krowden-racette@asha.org.×
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School-Based Settings / Professional Issues & Training / Features
Features   |   March 01, 2011
Mother, Daughter Plunge Together into SLP Program
The ASHA Leader, March 2011, Vol. 16, 30-31. doi:10.1044/leader.FTR7.16032011.30
The ASHA Leader, March 2011, Vol. 16, 30-31. doi:10.1044/leader.FTR7.16032011.30
The Johnson house isn’t seeing much sleep these days. While the rest of the households in the quiet New Jersey neighborhood slumber peacefully in the dark, Lawrence Johnson works on call 24 hours a day as an assistant supervisor for the New Jersey Transit system, and wife Stacey and daughter Anastasia stay up late into the night to go over class notes and study for upcoming exams. But this is not a case of mother helping daughter through tough college classes—in fact, the relationship is mutually beneficial as both women navigate their second year in the master’s program in speech-language pathology at nearby Kean University in Union, N.J.
“With us both in the program it works out really well when it comes to studying. We’re both in the same classes and if I miss something, she gets it, and if she misses something, I usually have it,” said Anastasia, 22. “It’s like we have the class 100% covered without having to record it.”
But, said Stacey, even though their notes are solid, the workload is still heavy and sleep takes a back seat. Each member of the family “averages about four to six hours of sleep per night,” she estimated.
Two future SLPs -- Stacey and Anastasia -- in 1989.
Although families with several members in the professions are not exactly unheard of, having a parent and child in the same program slated to graduate and start their new careers at the same time is rare. For the Johnsons, the experiences and decisions that led them to this point seemed orchestrated from the beginning. Anastasia is an only child, smart and ambitious, and always has been close to her parents. The Johnsons are supportive and loving, and they want the world for their daughter.
Still, someone had to go first.
In 1984 Stacey Johnson graduated from high school and went straight to work. She spent 20 years working in the insurance industry, making good money, and leading a very comfortable life, but one day decided she wanted to “grow up and do something different.” Leaving her comfort zone in her late 30s, Stacey decided it was time dig in. Her cousin was a speech-language pathologist and after an experience volunteering for the Summit Speech School in New Providence, N.J., she knew what she wanted her next path to be. She enrolled as an undergraduate speech-language pathology student in 2003.
Anastasia Johnson (center) with her mother, Stacey, and her father, Lawrence.
“I was making great money in my previous job,” said Stacey, now 44. “But after my experience at the Summit School and seeing these children progress and what it meant to their families, I knew I wanted a change. I was at a stage in my life where it’s not the money, but rather the intrinsic rewards that were important.”
Meanwhile, Anastasia was finishing high school and looking for a path of her own. Early on she was interested in English and psychology and thought about becoming an English teacher. The high school junior saw what her mother was doing at the Summit School—and even went with her to help out—and was curious. But, being 16 at the time, she didn’t want to admit she was interested.
“I did not want to feel like I was following anybody else’s path. I was a teenager and wanted to do my own thing,” she recalled, laughing.
But when Kean University representatives came to her school to talk to students about early admission and Anastasia learned more about the program, she realized that speech-language pathology was what she wanted to do. And then she finally told her parents.
“I guess I just had to humble myself and tell them,” she said. “But of course they were so happy for me.”
Anastasia’s advanced classes in high school allowed her to enter her undergraduate program as a second-semester freshman, the same time track as her mother. Suddenly mother and daughter were seeing a lot of each other in the classroom as well as at home.
“At first I thought that was going to be weird,” Anastasia said. “I was worried that she would sit next to me, nudge me, and tell me ‘Raise your hand! You know the answer to that question!’ But she didn’t. It’s actually been really nice to have her there.”
Mother and daughter agree that being in the program together has strengthened their already-close bond. Not only are they studying for the same classes together, but they have the same clinic hours, too, and are even known as the “mother-daughter” team. They’re both scheduled to graduate in August 2011. Stacey wants to join an agency and work part-time in a variety of settings. Anastasia, on the other hand, has her sights on entering a doctoral program and studying traumatic brain injury.
“We’re very excited for Anastasia to continue her studies. This has been such a wonderful experience for us both,” Stacey said.
But August is still several months away and there’s lots of studying to do and many clients to see before their joint graduation. As Stacey and Anastasia both said, “A light is always on at our house.”
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March 2011
Volume 16, Issue 3