ASHA Leader to Feature - Mary Jo Pangborn

Posted on: May 28, 2013

MJPangbornA "non-traditional" CSD alumna, Mary Jo Pangborn, shares her experience returning to earn her college degree in the middle of raising her own school-age children in the upcoming issue of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association's online magazine, "The ASHA Leader."

When Pangborn first enrolled at Michigan State University, the thought of completing her Master of Art's degree in Speech-Language Pathology was a distant thought, but she was determined to pursue what she loved while setting a positive example for her daughters.

"I did not want to wake up a year from now and wish I had already started," said Pangborn. "I needed the chance, the challenge and the change."

She comes from a family with green blood running through their veins, her grandfather, mother, and sister all call MSU their alma mater. With her close proximity to the East Lansing campus, as well as its reputation as a Big 10 school, she knew her entire family would welcome her decision.

Pangborn's life changed shortly after her first classes started. She realized that her chosen field was filled with "enormous opportunity," but also had its challenges.

"I had classes and internships all day with studying at night. I had endless hours of studying and preparing for exams, yet had to drive my girls to their sports. I also had lesson plans for my internships as well, yet still had to help my children create PowerPoint presentations and make treats for classroom parties," she said.

Aside from the divided responsibilities, Pangborn's biggest reward was the impact her hard work had on her daughters. Working as a team, they would study spelling as she studied phonological disorders, both creating flash cards for their respective classes of science and neurophysiology.

"I had never pondered how my studying and showing a desire to achieve something would affect them prior to my decision to return to school - something I may have not "taught" them otherwise," said Pangborn.

Since "taking the plunge," Pangborn graduated with an M.A. in 2011 with a Certificate of Clinical Competence for Speech-Language Pathologists (CCC-SLP). She now works for the Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District.

For others considering pursuing an advanced degree while raising a family, Pangborn says, "It will be a challenge, and it will be hard, but the rewards outweigh the challenges. We only live once and must make it everything we want it to be," said Pangborn. "We are never too old to learn. If we want to, we can make time to learn, and our children will model our behaviors."

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