I knew from a young age I wanted to be a teacher. My love for children started when I was five years old. I would line up my stuffed animals, write out lesson plans on a whiteboard and execute the plan perfectly with all their eyes on me. I got real hands experience, though, when my brother started showing problems with his speech. He would talk and no one could understand a thing he said, except for me. I acted as his translator so his speech skills never improved. As he got older, he began to see a speech-language pathologist for speech therapy. She gave him and our family homework to practice his intelligibility and speech production; this is where I found my true talent. Siblings often understand each other better than friends or parents, but this grew to be something more than a connection with my brother.
As I got older, I knew that I had a talent for working with children. I strayed away from the idea of working with speech as I didn't realize there was a major that was associated with fixing speech disorders. I bounced between being a teacher and a nurse. I spent my weekends and summers as a nanny in high school and was excited to start a career working with children once I graduated high school. Before I graduated, though, I started working with families with children who couldn't say their "r" or "s" sounds, and I loved working on their homework with them. They liked working with me, too, because I could understand them pretty well. I also worked in the ELL class at my high school to help the kids from foreign countries learn English. All of these situations I faced in high school sparked my interest, and I was so interested in how I could get involved in a career in this field.
At first, I was telling people I wanted to major in communication, but that wasn't the term for it. I did my research and found four schools that had a major that worked directly with speech. From here, I learned that speech and hearing science was an oddly specific, yet broad, major that fit my interests perfectly. I always struggled with choosing between working in a hospital or a school or even owning a private practice. Somehow, I landed on a career path that could allow for any of the three, even potentially combining various environments.
Once I began my journey in college as a speech and hearing major, I started working as a tutor for second graders where I had to write lesson plans and execute them according to Arizona Common Core standards. After the third week, it was pretty clear I wasn't cut out for the teaching life. It was hard for me to come up with ideas and lesson plans when they didn't go perfectly. Although it was a tough job, it was encouraging because it made me more excited to go to class and learn more about how else I could work with kids. I eventually stumbled upon a job where I got a chance to work with children with special needs in group settings. I was able to use my knowledge from classes and American Sign Language to work with these children.
I've always been drawn to children, especially those who need a little more help than others. Friends of mine have jumped from major to major, but I have been lucky enough to have always known what I wanted out of a career. As I've grown, I have been able to figure out more of the specifics of what I can get out of a speech and hearing science major. With every course I take, every person I talk to, every bit of new information I find, I become increasingly excited for my future and I'm so excited to pursue a career as a speech-language pathologist.