What I want to be when I grow up

In high school, I prayed nightly for God to unveil His plans for my life. My parents told me to get a college education, find a career that I loved, and work hard. Being goal-oriented, I was a little anxious about what I was supposed “to be” and how I would change the world. Throughout life, I always leaned towards a helping profession and enjoyed the medical field. During my junior and senior years, I took courses in health occupations and had the opportunity to work in the speech and hearing clinic at New Hanover Regional Medical Center. They even called me back in the summer to cover the front desk and answer phones while the secretary was on vacation. I will never forget Dixie, Stephanie and Barbara who taught me about hearing, speech and language disorders, and how I marveled at their work. I also learned a great deal from the audiologist and was amazed that they could test the hearing of such young babies and toddlers. My search for colleges with programs in speech-language pathology began, and I have never looked back. Thanks to divine intervention and inspiring people along the way, I finally know what I’m supposed to be when I grow up!

My best supporters

While I’ve worked as a speech-language pathologist for nearly 30 years in both corporate and private settings, sometimes the most valuable experience begins at home. For 27 years, I’ve been married to Kevin Umphlett and as anyone married for a lengthy time knows, good communication forms the basis of a lasting relationship. Kevin and our two children have been incredibly supportive throughout my career, and have taught me so much about real-life communication and how we relate to one another. When people express that I’m patient, I know I owe part of that patience to my family and spouse. When parents remark that I’m “so great with kids,” I know much of that ease comes from raising two children of my own. Familial relationships lay the foundation for our careers and our lives, and on behalf of my own family, I say thank you!

Beginnings

When I was just nine years old, I taught my three-year-old brother to read. I would read and re-read all of Dr. Seuss’ books to my brother until he completely memorized them, and we’d show our parents how he could read a book. Looking back, that experience established my love for reading and teaching and may have been the catalyst for my career as a speech-language pathologist. One summer, inspired by the book mobile and cozy RV that came to our street each week so we could check out books, I decided to build my own library for neighborhood friends. I cleaned out my closet and filled it with children’s books. I even glued cards in the back of the books with slips of paper for checkout. Then, I told friends that my new library had opened, and I think a few even checked out a book or two. That love of learning and sharing information has been a part of me since I can remember. Now, there are numerous teachers in our family, as well as three speech-language pathologists including me and two of my cousins. And I couldn’t be prouder to be among them.