August 31, 2010 Feature

Academia: "Always Something New and Different"

Professor Initially Rejects Career Path That Ultimately Brings Fulfillment

Tiffany Hogan, PhD, CCC-SLP, attends a brain imaging conference in Amsterdam in June 2010.Name: Tiffany Hogan, PhD, CCC-SLP 
Job title: Assistant Professor, Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders, University of Nebraska, Lincoln  

Tiffany Hogan didn't set out to be a speech-language pathologist or to earn a PhD. Back in 1993 as a first-semester college student, she was on a scholarship at the University of Central Missouri to become a psychologist—simply because she was curious about how the human mind worked. But for some reason she missed an important detail about obtaining a psychology degree.

"I found out I would most likely need to get a PhD to start my own practice and at that time thought, 'That's way too much time in school!' So I decided to change my major."

Hogan's mother is an SLP. But for Hogan that seemed too obvious a choice and she wanted to find her own professional path. So she looked into other fields—even dabbled in a few business classes—but soon was undeniably drawn to communication disorders. Her interest in how the brain works fit nicely into learning about the cognition of language and, despite her best efforts, she was hooked.

"It was kind of inevitable, I suppose," she said. "I've always been fascinated by how babies go from babbling to communicating in full sentences in just three years. It's an amazing feat in such a short time!"

Six years later with a master's degree in speech-language pathology in hand, Hogan was ready to get to work. She took a job in the pediatric unit at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City. It was there she was asked to develop an early literacy program and her imminent slide into academia began. It became obvious to her that the children she worked with who had communication problems would inevitably have literacy problems.

Her curiosity grew—she wanted to find the connection—and in her heart of hearts she knew there was only one way to find out: obtain a PhD and learn how to conduct research. She applied to the doctoral program at the University of Kansas to work with Holly Storkel and Hugh Catts and today she is exactly what she thought she would never be: an SLP with a PhD.

And she couldn't be happier, she said.

"I love the frequent change that occurs in my schedule," she said. "I'm always working on something new and different. As a professor, I choose what I do each day. I am paid to pursue what I'm passionate about. It's a really exciting job!"

As much as she now loves research, Hogan also embraces her role as a mentor.

"My style is very interactive—I don't really lecture in a traditional sense—and I learn as much from my students as they learn from me," she said. "I feel that every conversation you have can be a teaching moment."  

Tiffany Hogan, PhD, CCC-SLP, can be reached at

Kellie Rowden-Racette, print and online editor for The ASHA Leader, can be reached at

cite as: Rowden-Racette, K. (2010, August 31). Academia: "Always Something New and Different" : Professor Initially Rejects Career Path That Ultimately Brings Fulfillment. The ASHA Leader.


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