A New Profession and a New Passion I wish I could say I’ve always wanted to be a speech-language pathologist. In fact, only weeks before my first class in the Communication Disorders and Sciences Department at California State University, Northridge, did I ever hear of speech-language pathology. A dear friend suggested I consider the program, which ... First Person on the Last Page
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First Person on the Last Page  |   August 01, 2009
A New Profession and a New Passion
Author Notes
  • Felicia Sison Conlan, MS, graduated in May from the Communication Disorders and Sciences Department at California State University, Northridge, where she received the Dean’s Award. Contact her at fsconlan@sbcglobal.net.
    Felicia Sison Conlan, MS, graduated in May from the Communication Disorders and Sciences Department at California State University, Northridge, where she received the Dean’s Award. Contact her at fsconlan@sbcglobal.net.×
Article Information
Professional Issues & Training / First Person on the Last Page
First Person on the Last Page   |   August 01, 2009
A New Profession and a New Passion
The ASHA Leader, August 2009, Vol. 14, 59. doi:10.1044/leader.FPLP.14102009.59
The ASHA Leader, August 2009, Vol. 14, 59. doi:10.1044/leader.FPLP.14102009.59

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I wish I could say I’ve always wanted to be a speech-language pathologist. In fact, only weeks before my first class in the Communication Disorders and Sciences Department at California State University, Northridge, did I ever hear of speech-language pathology. A dear friend suggested I consider the program, which she described as a combination of two things I enjoy—communication and teaching. I was a broadcast journalist who took time off to raise my children and became a bilingual substitute teacher. I was nervous about going back to college.
This transitional stage has been a time of wisdom and rediscovery of talents and knowledge and has enhanced my life tremendously. I am indebted to my professors and supervisors who gave me the background and confidence to become a successful SLP. My mentors, including those through the ASHA Student to Empowered Professional program (STEP) and the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association, generously offered advice and suggestions throughout my academic career.
My great joy has been raising my two boys who studied for classes and exams with me. They gave me the fortitude and inspiration to persevere through prerequisite courses and the demanding curriculum.
Our profession is full of caring, intelligent, compassionate people. I met many in the graduate program and at the ASHA convention in Chicago as a delegate in the Minority Student Leadership Program. I have forged lifelong friendships with colleagues on whom I can count professionally or personally.
I plan to work as an SLP in schools, where there is a critical shortage. I also want to use my journalism background to increase the public’s understanding of the profession. I think many people don’t realize what SLPs do or our scope of practice—they seem to think we just remediate speech. They are surprised to find that SLPs also perform swallowing evaluations, help individuals who have experienced stroke and traumatic brain injury to regain skills or learn compensatory strategies, and help children with cleft lips/palates to articulate. I proudly announce that we work with people of all ages and disabilities in several settings and that we have taken classes on how the brain works, various disorders, and diseases. This information usually results in astonished looks of admiration. Might as well have a little fun, right? Best of all, I can keep offering my services until I decide to retire.
We all want to make a difference in this world. Speech-language pathology is an honorable profession that enriches the life of both the giver and receiver.
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FROM THIS ISSUE
August 2009
Volume 14, Issue 10