Certified Speech-Language Pathologist and Mother
Grad Year: 2002
Other areas of sudy/degree(s):
BA French; MS Speech-Language Pathology
When thinking about why English matters, I think back to the class I took on poetry at Michigan and, even more specifically, to one particular paper I wrote in that class. In this 5-page paper, I analyzed one line of a poem. Only one line – maybe about 8 to 10 words at most – and at the end of the five pages, I found that I could have said more. This paper is so memorable to me because it represents one of the major lessons I learned from obtaining an English degree – that there is so much depth of meaning in language, so much that can be said by so little. That language, even when short and simple, still contains complexities and can be analyzed in a myriad of ways.
I admit that while at Michigan I was a bit lost as to what I would do with my English/French double-major after graduation. What I did know was that I loved language and somehow wanted to take what I had learned and use it to help others in a meaningful way. Ultimately, studying abroad in France helped me discover my true passion, as I watched little French children speak with ease as I struggled to express myself in French. I began to marvel at how language develops in children and to truly appreciate what it means to have difficulties speaking, which eventually led me to pursue a master’s in speech-language pathology.
As a speech-language pathologist, I have worked with patients of all ages on developing their ability to communicate or recovering that ability after it has been lost. Why English matters is particularly striking when you work with someone who has lost their ability to speak. We often don’t value what we have until it is lost. Individuals who have lost the ability to speak would gladly tell you the importance of English (and/or other languages spoken) in their lives if they could. English matters because self-expression matters, and because having the ability to understand, interpret, and analyze what others say matters. We use language every day, in every profession, in every aspect of our lives. Language is at the core of who we are – it makes us unique from other living creatures and how we personally use language reflects the nature of who we are as individuals.
At the university level, we often focus on English in its highest form, examining its intricacies and always striving to write more thoughtfully, more creatively. We tweak that which comes naturally to us. We stretch our minds to think from a variety of perspectives and to generate novel ideas. In doing so, we deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us, which will help us in life no matter what we do after we graduate. However, the simple truth is that English – or whatever language you speak – is also important because even the shortest and simplest of statements, such as saying “Mommy” for the first time or relearning to say “I love you” to your sweetheart, can mean so much.
Since obtaining my master’s degree, I have worked in both hospital and school settings as a speech-language pathologist and have recently taken a break from speech pathology to stay at home with my young son. In all jobs I’ve had, I have relied on my English degree extensively. My knowledge of English has helped me to write better reports, to give better presentations and to persuade insurance companies to cover my patients’ therapy sessions. Concentrating in English has also improved my ability to help individuals with reading problems and to transcribe the speech of patients. Further, my knowledge of English has served me well in the school setting, as I have been better prepared to collaborate with teachers and to help students with a variety of needs, from special education services to group language intervention in the regular-education classroom. Finally, as a parent, my love of language and literature is something I share with my child every day, which I have no doubt will enrich his life as he learns and grows.
Ten years after graduating from the University of Michigan with a bachelor’s degree in English and French, I find that my life is complete and would not be so if I had not followed my passion. For me, language was my passion, and pursuing an English degree was the first step down my path to professional happiness and success. I was once told that your call in life is where your passion and the needs of the world meet. If you are concentrating in English now and find that English ignites a passion in you, feel blessed – there are innumerable ways you can take that English degree and make a difference in this world. English truly matters!
Faith Adler Brown, Erin Crowley, Dory Gannes, Aric Knuth, Lawrence Landman, Katherine MacNair, Howard Markel, MD, PhD, Sarah Marwil Lamstein, Kelly O’Connor McNees, Amanda Richardson, Michael Richman, Melissa Shook, Rebecca Soares, Kurt Taroff, Lisa Vandenbossche, Lee Woldenberg, Anne Wyman
Related Career FieldsEducation, Health and Wellness