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Andrea Brewer, Shelby Zanks and Martha Battles

Speech Pathology Ignites Passions and Careers for Recent Longwood Alumni

Andrea Brewer ‘10

Andrea Brewer was at the end of her rope selling medical devices when she found herself Googling "jobs" and "satisfaction." She found speech-language pathology in a search, and hasn't looked back.

Speech-language pathologists help individuals of all ages to develop communication skills by treating disorders of speech, language, voice and swallowing.

It's a fast and lucrative field. The Bureau of Labor Statistics ranks speech-language pathology in the top 30 (of 700) of the next decade's fastest growing occupations. The median annual salary for speech-language pathologists (SLPs) working in health care facilities is $70,000, and the impact they make on the lives of their patients is invaluable.

Brewer took the leap. She turned to Longwood for her master's degree in Communications Sciences and Disorders, and in May 2010, she graduated with the required credentials and a newfound passion for working with children.

Brewer thought she wanted to work with adults, but had an "aha" moment during a speech and language screening at an elementary school near Longwood. While working with the children, she realized how fulfilling it would be to help a child become more successful in school and in life. She is now working as a speech-language pathologist for Colonial Heights City Public Schools.

"I have the privilege to be able to work with children every day," Brewer said. "Because of Longwood, I am well prepared for what I do. The professors at Longwood did everything in their power to make me a competent clinician."

Shelby Zanks ‘09

Shelby Zanks first became interested in speech-language pathology as she watched a woman at her church perform hymns through sign language. "It was this whole other language that I didn't understand - but seeing her enthusiasm in signing these songs inspired me," Zanks said.

Zanks credits Longwood's placement program as the key to launching her successful speech-language pathologist career. "The professors went above and beyond to help me find placements that met my aspirations." After graduating, she worked with Henrico County Public Schools, and recently started working full time with Speech Connections, a private practice in Henrico County, Va.

"My favorite part of working as a speech pathologist is achieving little accomplishments with a patient. Each achievement is exciting and builds to a brighter future for the individual," Zanks explained. "I get as excited as the parents and families when we reach these milestones."

Martha Battles ‘10

Martha Battles loves the fast paced, off-the-cuff environment she's experienced in her current position at the Lawrence and Memorial Hospital in Connecticut. At the 280-bed community hospital with a stroke center and in-patient rehab unit, Battles works with a large variety of patients, including those suffering strokes or brain injuries. She completes cognitive and language therapy, as well as swallowing therapy and evaluation.

"The professors at Longwood are masters at finding opportunities that are a perfect fit for you. I first started working at Lawrence and Memorial during a school placement, and I'm happy to say it has turned into a career for me," Battles explained. "Not only am I doing what I love, I'm close to my family in Connecticut. I tell everyone that the best part of Longwood is all you have to do is ask, and the professors will help you make your dreams come true."

Learn more about Longwood's graduate Communication Sciences and Disorders program