Life Lessons: Remembering Ted Kennedy He was a prominent senator from Massachusetts and I was a junior in college, interning in ASHA’s government relations and public policy office in Washington, D.C. Initially, I didn’t expect to have much in common with Sen. Ted Kennedy, but over a simple breakfast meeting in our nation’s capital, I ... First Person on the Last Page
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First Person on the Last Page  |   October 01, 2009
Life Lessons: Remembering Ted Kennedy
Author Notes
  • Kelly Breen, MS, CCC-SLP, is a pediatric speech-language pathologist at Assential Therapies, Inc. in Chicago. Contact her at kellbreen@gmail.com.
    Kelly Breen, MS, CCC-SLP, is a pediatric speech-language pathologist at Assential Therapies, Inc. in Chicago. Contact her at kellbreen@gmail.com.×
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Speech, Voice & Prosodic Disorders / Voice Disorders / Hearing & Speech Perception / Acoustics / Augmentative & Alternative Communication / School-Based Settings / Professional Issues & Training / Regulatory, Legislative & Advocacy / ASHA News & Member Stories / Normal Language Processing / Speech, Voice & Prosody / First Person on the Last Page
First Person on the Last Page   |   October 01, 2009
Life Lessons: Remembering Ted Kennedy
The ASHA Leader, October 2009, Vol. 14, 35. doi:10.1044/leader.FPLP.14132009.35
The ASHA Leader, October 2009, Vol. 14, 35. doi:10.1044/leader.FPLP.14132009.35
He was a prominent senator from Massachusetts and I was a junior in college, interning in ASHA’s government relations and public policy office in Washington, D.C. Initially, I didn’t expect to have much in common with Sen. Ted Kennedy, but over a simple breakfast meeting in our nation’s capital, I saw how similar our careers in public service were and how much I could learn from this powerful man.
I was struck by the senator’s ability to make everyone in the room feel welcome and comfortable and by his quick wit and ease while conversing with people he had just met. When I introduced myself as a co-op student from Northeastern University—in his hometown of Boston—his remarks about my school and internship made me feel like we were old friends.
I never had a personal conversation with any other senator, but I doubt that I could have learned more from another political representative about making my career a passion and my interactions with others positive and noteworthy. Today, as a pediatric speech-language pathologist, I remember to make small jokes and to comment on similarities between the parents of my clients and me to put them at ease, just as Sen. Kennedy did when he met me. From our brief conversation, I learned how to interact with people I’ve never met—a daily occurrence in my job. I was also inspired to follow more closely his life and policies in Washington, which demonstrated how to pursue what I want for myself and my patients.
Sen. Kennedy showed me how to put my whole heart and all my energy into what I believe, whether it is arranging for an insurance company to pay for an augmentative and alternative communication device or never giving up on a child who is unresponsive to any activity I present. He also taught me to be relentless in the face of critics and nonbelievers. As an SLP, I am surrounded by individuals who doubt everything from the value of therapeutic techniques to the use of a picture-based communication system instead of spoken language. His reputation in the Senate for never giving up on a cause and for treating everyone with whom he came into contact with respect and compassion are a model for my professional work.
Sen. Kennedy has been an inspiration to me and to many others in the health care field. Throughout 47 years in the Senate, he was steadfast in his beliefs and ideals, bringing attention to areas of health care that are often forgotten and staying true to these ideals despite disappointment and waning support. He will always hold a special place in my heart as a leader for every man and woman, but especially for those whose voices are not as loud or as clear as others.
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October 2009
Volume 14, Issue 13