The Last Frontier and Me, an SLP

I moved to Alaska on July 7, 2013. I’ve been here almost a year. I haven’t spoke of it much on my blog, mostly because I didn’t think people would care. But its become such a huge piece of why I love being an SLP and why I don’t want to leave, that I need to share – I need to you all to hear what is happening in Alaska….allow me to share with you, my readers, a piece of me.  A piece of self that I found here.



The People

Unknown. Unknown to others and to myself. They all sensed my need, my thirst for people. Russian. Native. White. Hispanic. Samoan. African American. Faces that take you in, surround you with compassion, make you question, and make you feel at home.

This great Frontier. Well known for its beauty, its grandeur. But the people…the people. Sturdy, proud people. In-tune with life, nature, and living. Tireless to defend the state of the State. Keeping it to self yet with open arms they open its gates. Even outsiders like me have a place, a spot. A people just right for people like me.

The Job

Children squirming in boots, hats, and gloves. Penguins in the halls laughing in the negatives, just itching to get warm. Speech the last thing on their minds. Brimming with ideas of ATVs, snow machines, and sled dogs, there’s little room to fill their heads with nouns, verbs, and acronyms. Yet, mesh and mold and sneak a lesson in, till they laugh at my question – “Why ‘snow machine’ not ‘snow mobile’?”. All in stride. All in time. All in their IEP.

Oh sure. It’s rough, it’s cold, it’s new yet old. Grad school dreams never lent me here. But here I am and here I’ll stay. These people, this place – nowhere else I’ll be.

The Need

The Last Frontier. The Great State. The lower 48 seems to revel in its splendor, it’s prestige. I too wanted adventure, wonder. But there is so, so, so, so much more. There’s a need – no – a desperate need for specialists. Those who know, who can teach. Swallowing, feeding, cognition, aphasia, dysarthria, language, bilingual, apraxia, severe disabilities. They don’t rhyme or flow but these people, these words fill the Valley’s and Rivers  with their unmistakable needs.

Families, care givers, loved ones, and patients. Drive hours, fly hours, leave home, and stay away just for advice, for a slice. A piece of the “specialty” – we need you up here. New, young, experienced, inexperienced, weathered, excited, inspired. You people. You SLPs who are seeking. Alaska needs you.

There’s a need and you can fill it. I see it now, and I’m not sure I can leave.

Alaska has stolen my heart and I’m so glad it did.

SLP_Echo in Alaska

8 thoughts on “The Last Frontier and Me, an SLP

  1. Otto Mazzoni

    Beautiful post, Katie. You seem to be tapping into something quite poetic, as far as your voice as a writer goes. Love the flow of this. Keep tapping into that Katie-ness that everyone loves so much!

  2. Nance

    Well said, Katie.
    I’ve been here for 19 years now . . . and I feel the same way (well, except for the SLP stuff!). 😉

  3. Julie

    Katie, I very much would love to know about any part time SLP jobs in AK. I heard about a traveling job where you do therapy in the way out parts of AK. If you have any info I’m interested. You inspire me to want to make a change in my career.

  4. ozark speechie

    I grew up in Alaska and left for graduate school. I miss it dearly but not the 3-4 hr flight to Seattle! I’m glad you have had such a great experience in my home state. The beauty and the people can be found no where else.

  5. melany ospina

    Amazing Katie, inspiring i don’t know if i could ever have enough courage to uproot my life and move to a whole new state. I’m so happy for you!

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