My name is Kathy Shapley, I doubt you remember me. I took your analytical chemistry course back in the late 80's. I was a shy girl, but was strong in math and science. I didn't go to the best high school. I was a first generation college student, and wasn't confident in my abilities. Although I made the Dean's list the first six semesters of college, my default answer whenever I was called on in any class was "I don't know". One day in class you looked at me and said "Miss Shapley that answer is not good enough today. We will stay here until you work this problem all the way through". I wanted to run from the room; but instead I worked the problem all the way through and after class you said to me, "see you do know, do you understand why I did that?"
I did understand. You were helping me find my voice. After completing my degree in Chemistry and working in the field for a couple of years, I went back to school for a masters in speech language pathology. After six years of clinical practice, the scientist in me led me back to school for a Ph.D.
In 2003, I received my PhD in Speech Language Pathology and a second Masters (in applied statistics, because after all I did know I was a math/science girl) from the University of Nebraska Lincoln. I worked in industry (research/test development) for six years before accepting a position in academia.
My vita includes over 3 million in funding, authored book chapters & peer reviewed manuscripts, and dozens of presentations. I have helped dozens of students complete research projects. I've received awards for teaching and service and even Honors of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association for my service as the National Advisor of that organization from 2015-2017.
I've been teaching for 10 years. I've achieved promotion and tenure and am now a full professor. Over the years, I have called on students who knew the answers but hadn't found their voice yet. I support/challenge them just as you did me all those years ago.
I am currently the chair of the speech language pathology department at Mississippi University for Women. I attended the Welty Gala this past Friday. The guest author was Brad Meltzer. In his speech he challenged each of us to think of a teacher who help set our life on a different trajectory. You were the first person who came to mind. I see that you have retired from Stephen F. Austin and have accomplished much in your career.
I just wanted to say having you as a teacher helped change my life. What you did mattered and was pivotal for me. The day you challenged me to find my voice is as vivid in my mind as if it happened yesterday. It always makes me smile.
Kathy L. Shapley Ph.D. CCC-SLP
Chair & Professor
Your story brought tears to my eyes. It is for these moments that all of us who are really dedicated to teaching live for. I am honored that I was able to be a small part of your story. I am so proud of you for your accomplishments, but even more proud of the person you have become.
Yes, I retired about a year ago after 46 years teaching and four days later I hired on with the SFA STEM Research and Learning Center as a half time employee. Now I am involved in working with elementary, middle school and high school students as well as trying to keep up with my writing and home life. And you have just made my life a little brighter. Please stay in touch.
Dr. John T. Moore
Regents Professor Emeritus
Kathy – thanks so much for sharing this with us. Your story is a great example of why we should thank those who have helped us along the way. I am so glad that you were able to give that feedback and support to someone who was a part of your journey.
Donna Fisher Smiley, Ph.D., CCC-A
ASHA Fellow Audiology Supervisor/Audiologist Arkansas Children's Hospital 1 Children's Way ● Slot 113 ● Little Rock, AR 72202
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