May is Better Hearing & Speech Month and we’ve been celebrating Wolf’s incredible Speech and Language Pathologists all month long! For this month’s We Are Wolf interview, we wanted to introduce you to one of our amazing SLPs – Anna Zembo!
1. Can you briefly tell us about your background?
I grew up in Westport, MA, and first became interested in speech-language pathology as a high schooler. I completed my bachelor’s at Emerson College in Communication Sciences and Disorders and my master’s in Speech-Language Pathology at UNC-Chapel Hill (Go Tarheels!). I usually tell people that I’ve been interested in autism spectrum disorder and complex learners for as long as I’ve been interested in speech-language pathology, so the two really go hand in hand for me. In addition to my practice as an SLP, I am also the theater and program director of The MIracle Project-New England, a performing and expressive arts program for folks of all abilities and I teach graduate courses for Emerson College’s masters of Speech-Language Pathology program.
2. What inspired you to pursue a career as an SLP?
Growing up, I worked as a dance instructor with young children. Throughout this experience, I found myself gravitating toward students who needed just a little bit of extra support to find success in the dance studio. Maybe they needed the steps explained in a different way, required a little extra time to learn a new move, or benefitted from support focusing in class or following the plan. I didn’t realize it then, but those baby ballerinas were my first complex learners! When I began to consider careers I’d like to explore as a high schooler, speech-language pathology seemed like a natural fit! Since then, I have found it incredibly rewarding to support others in finding their voices and accessing their own means of personal expression.
3. What is your favorite part about working with Complex Learners?
My favorite part of my job working with Complex Learners is learning from my students. I love to hear our students’ unique perspectives and see how they approach learning. They teach me new things every day!
4. What do you think is the most misunderstood part about being an SLP?
Oftentimes, folks I meet hear “speech therapy” and think “oh, you help kids say their R sound” or “you work with kids who stutter”, not realizing how broad an SLP’s scope of practice really is. Speech-language pathologists are trained experts in articulation, fluency, voice and resonance, language, cognition, hearing, swallowing, social communication, and communication modalities and work in a wide range of settings from schools and clinics to hospitals and nursing homes. From the perspective of a school-based clinician, I wish more people knew how SLPs work to support students to become more effective communicators, better self-advocates, and more successful members of their social communities.
5. Can you share one of your favorite quotes/mottos with us?
“It’s never too late to start the day over!” This is a motto I use with my students and myself, often. It is a part of life to have bumps in our day but it’s never too late to start over with a fresh attitude!
Thank you for everything you do for your students and for Wolf, Anna! We are so lucky to have so many incredible SLPs as part of the Wolf team! To learn more about other Wolf Staff, read some of our past We Are Wolf interviews!