San Francisco State University - B.A.
California State University Long Beach - M.A.
If Megan Avila had to sum up her career as a speech-language pathologist, she'd say it's her job to "teach people to talk." Of course, that's just part of the story: Megan treats a broad spectrum of communication disorders that can include anything from autistic patients to stutterers and a host of conditions in between.
Working primarily with children, Megan enjoys the variety her career offers and its challenges. "Days will be hard, children will be difficult," says Megan. "Patience is important." And while patience is a necessary trait in her line of work, it's also what makes it so rewarding when pieces start falling into place for her patients and their parents. "I get to play with toys all day and change people's lives at the same time."
Nothing's more rewarding to me than experiencing a child's first words with their parents.
How did you discover your current job?
I discovered the profession itself through my dad. I had wanted to be in the medical field and he knew other speech-language pathologists who loved it.
What responsibilities do you have in your role?
The basic description of my job is that I teach people to talk. I help individuals between the ages of 2 and 14 years old -- and occasionally adults -- with communication disorders. This includes late talkers, children on the autism spectrum, individuals who stutter and speech sound disorders, to name a few.
What is it about your job that makes you feel it’s the right fit for you?
This is the perfect job for me! I get to play with toys all day and change people's lives at the same time. Nothing's more rewarding to me than experiencing a child's first words with their parents.
What challenges keep you awake at night?
I can honestly say that no two days are alike in my job; every day's different and surprising. The biggest challenge is when a new or unfamiliar case is presented to me and I have to update myself on the best approach to treatment.
Is work/life balance ever a problem with you? If so, what is one no-fail tactic you use to create balance?
Initially, it was a struggle to meet all of my demands at work and still have personal time. However, I've now learned it's important to leave myself some "me" time. Additionally, I'm very organized with my paperwork so I don't fall too far behind.
Was there ever a moment in your career where you’ve thought, “I made it!” What was it?
The hardest part for me was graduate school. My first "I made it" moment was when I graduated with my Master's Degree. My second "I made it" moment was the first time a parent specifically requested that I be the treating therapist.
What are some of the rules you live by?
At work: Listen to the children's wants and needs and read what they're trying to tell you non-verbally.
In my personal life: You only live once. Enjoy life to the fullest and make yourself happy.
What qualities does it take for someone to be successful in your line of work?
Patience is the most important quality. Days will be hard, children will be difficult and you work primarily with women. Being confident, strong, knowledgeable and willing to always be learning are good qualities.
What one piece of advice do you wish you could tell a 21-year-old version of yourself?
Enjoy the road and worry less. You will get in to grad school. You will be a therapist. You will be fine.