In the Beginning

Country road


Photo by Dominic’s Pics

As the year begins drawing to a close I find myself taking trips down memory lane. Not normally given to dwelling on the past, I suppose having to update my vita during the past week has spurred these interludes of recollection. Being in the business of teaching tomorrow’s professionals, my recent thoughts have frequently returned to how it all began for me…my decision to become a speech-language pathologist.

In high school I was not the most studious of individuals…it’s not that I lacked intelligence, I simply lacked “give a damn.” Fortunately my high school was willing to assist its students in charting their course in life, having each of us take an aptitude test designed to help choose a career. I can still remember sitting in Miss Crabbs’s English class during my junior year and looking at the results…the test indicated I was ideally suited to be a speech therapist.

So that afternoon of my junior year I decided I’d become a speech therapist. Never mind that I didn’t know what a speech therapist was or, in fact, had ever heard of such a thing…if that’s what the test said I should be, well that’s what I was going to be. I resolutely stuck with this decision throughout my senior year…though I never actually took the time to figure out what a speech therapist was (I’ve already mentioned my lack of ambition haven’t I). Undeterred, I applied to the Speech Pathology and Audiology program at Clarion University of Pennsylvania and was accepted into the class of 1987.

Despite going to orientation during the summer, I was still unclear what a speech therapist was when the start of classes rolled around that fall of 1983. With all the confidence of a blissfully ignorant 18-year-old I strolled into my first “speech therapy class,” Speech Science I, and was struck dumb by what I saw…every seat was occupied by a girl. Yes…I had won…I had correctly chosen a career (or at least the test had).

Fortunately, during that first semester of college I also came to learn what a speech therapist was and, in the process, realized that this was the truly profession for me. The rest, as they say, is history. I’ve spent the past 20+ years in a career I find endlessly interesting doing a job that I more often than not don’t regard as work.

Now here’s the kicker to this whole story… Remember that aptitude test that set me down the road to becoming a speech-language pathologist? I looked back on it several years later, after I’d earned my graduate degree. Much to my chagrin I found that I’d read it WRONG…I had looked at the “female side” of the test instead of the side that provided the “male interpretation” of results. Though the world missed getting another mason, I like to think it got a fairly decent speech-language pathologist in return.

Kenneth Staub, M.S., CCC-SLP, is an Assistant Professor, Communication Sciences & Disorders at Clarion University of Pennsylvania. He will be a regular contributor to ASHAsphere and welcomes questions or suggestions for posts.