Dear Tita Kaye,
On my 18th birthday, you were one of the significant persons in my life who gave me a special birthday message. Yours was a very beautiful and heartwarming message! I bet there wasn't a dry eye left in the room. Of all the things you said though, the one that I distinctly remember and that kept playing in my ears years after was what you said about Speech Pathology. With so much emotion (if I remember correctly, you even teared up on this part), you said that "Speech Pathology redefined me as a person and it changed my life for the better" and that you're confident it will do the same for me. At that time, I did not completely understand what you meant. I just finished freshman year and my knowledge was limited to finding x (Math 11), balancing chemical equations (Chem 14), and making sentence outlines without committing a fatal format error (Comm 1). Nonetheless, your words made an impact on me. It left me feeling excited to discover this profession that my aunt speaks so passionately about. Perhaps in my heart, I was quietly looking for something that will change me for the better.
Three years later, I think I'm starting to understand what you meant. After experiencing actual patient handling, I've realized that few things could be more life-changing than being a Speech Pathologist. Little by little, I felt the change creeping in- rigidity giving way to flexibility as I was faced with an unpredictable human being; indifference being replaced by empathy as I listened to a father lamenting about all the sacrifices he has done for his son with special needs; weeks of frustration being conquered by a moment of gratitude and joy as I watched a student finally able to communicate in the way she needed to. These were the unexpected encounters that shaped me to be more patient, more caring, more appreciative of the small victories that resound in the lives of the families we committed to helping.
Change is difficult and more often than not, painful. Internship year, rife as it was with learnings, was not easy as you truthfully told me at the beginning. You have always known me to be that girl who's always up for a challenge; optimistic and determined to see things through no matter what. But there were times when I found myself asking if I had the skills and more importantly, the heart for this profession. There were times when I so desperately looked inside myself for the raison d'être, my reason for striving in the face of seemingly insurmountable difficulties. Tired, dejected, and extremely uninspired, I shared to you all my doubts and you told me that it was during moments like these that you wrote the open letter for*. I read the letter again and was reminded that "it will be more than worth it".
Today, it has been two weeks since our batch, SP 2015, graduated. In your letter, you said "see you at the finish line!". And here we are! It came so fast, didn't it? With that much dreamed-of (and hard-earned!) title of 'Speech-Language Pathologist' now finally affixed to our names, all I can think of is that indeed, it was all worth it- the sacrifices, the mistakes, the million and one times we stood up from a fall, not allowing ourselves to be defeated by the thought that we have reached our limit. The experience was enriching, humbling, and nothing short of redefining. The personal growth as much as the professional one defines our profession and I'm so glad I ended up here.
Truth be told, when I look on the horizon, my heart trembles and my knees shake a little bit, quite unsure of my first step. What do I do? Where do I go? What now? There are no fast answers but I know that the future is promising and that the world is waiting for us to make a difference, "one word at a time". The excitement, anticipation, and hunger for more redefining experiences weigh more heavily than the uncertainty. Yes! We survived internship. We are ready for the bigger challenge. And we have no doubt that we will always have you and all the other SLPs before us to teach us, inspire us, and help us realize our potential. I believe that a lot of us will stay here to selflessly serve the country as we ought to. I hope that with much dedication and commitment, many of us will take part in the organization's efforts to improve and safeguard our practice. As for me, right now I'm just proud to say that I have finally found an answer to your student's question.
“You think God already made the perfect girl for me?”
"Yes. God has made the perfect plan for all of us."
*An Open Letter to a Future Speech Pathologist by Mae Catherine Sadicon: http://www.pasp.org.ph/Articles/3153030
Marilag Sadicon is a graduate of BS Speech Pathology from the College of Allied Medical Professions, University of the Philippines Manila in 2015.
Photo Credits: 1) CAMP College Recognition Ceremony- Marilag Sadicon, 2) Research Symposium and Internship Rotation Sites (PGH Ear Unit, CBR Bulacan, CTS Pedia) - Paolo Mangune, Lorenzo Bueza, Jessica Reyes , 3) University Graduation - Jessica Reyes