How did you become a Speech-Language Pathologist?

We recently came across a great blog post written by Holly Kaiser, co-founder of Progressus Therapy. In her post, Holley describes how her own struggles with speech led her to pursue a career as an SLP rather than training to become a veterinarian. Holley’s story especially touched our staff to the point where we felt obligated to share it with you.

Read Holley’s Story Below:

Although I have now dedicated over 30 years to special education, it was not my original career goal.  As I was growing up, all I wanted to do was to be a veterinarian. When my friends played house in kindergarten, my teacher called my mom to let her know she was concerned because I was always crawling on the floor pretending to be the family dog. I found it easier to bark than to speak. My teacher didn’t recognize that I stuttered.

The “speech teacher”, Miss Pieper, started seeing me in speech therapy and worked very hard to help me become more fluent and develop more confidence in speaking.  I began to feel more comfortable in the therapy room but at that time, the service delivery model was exclusively “pull-out” and as we now know, students need help to generalize their new skills in the classroom environment.  I continued to be severely dysfluent in the classroom and on the playground and it was a growing struggle in social situations.  As classroom expectations and social pressures increased, I became ever-so-more determined to become a veterinarian and fantasize about a world where I wouldn’t have to worry as much about fluency.  After all, I was always fluent when talking to Schnappsy, my dachshund.  As my stuttering continued to impact my classroom performance and social growth, Miss Pieper referred my parents to Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. Michigan where there was a fluency specialist named Dr. Charles Van Riper.  Most SLPs know of “Dr. Van”, the father of speech therapy.  His basic methodology for addressing stuttering is still the foundation of most therapy programs for fluency.

Part of his treatment was to learn to accept the fact that you may stutter (and that’s okay)  rather than trying to avoid it.  He even made me go into public situations and stutter on purpose.  Can you imagine anything more embarrassing? What I didn’t realize was that this “horrible” exercise helped me to see that the world wouldn’t fall apart if I stuttered.  In fact, the less I “tried” to be fluent, the easier it was to speak. To this day, I think it is the reason I have found it easier to speak with other therapists because I know we are all in a helping profession. So – why didn’t I become a vet? I started off in pre-vet in Michigan State University and with all the excitement and stress of college life, I was once again letting the fear of stuttering limit my opportunities. I found out therapy was available to all students for free so I decided to see an SLP, and face my fears of stuttering again.  I learned some new strategies that helped me so much that I decided to switch majors so I could give back to the profession that had made such a difference in my life.


Now we would love to hear from you! Please share with us your story of how you became a speech-language pathologist. Send us an email at

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