October 9, 2012 People

First Person on the Last Page: Joseph Motzko

Two Professions, One Discipline/Marriage

How would you react if your husband or wife came home from work and told you that they intended to quit their job? Your first reaction might be to assume they just had a bad day at the office. Now, what if your significant other was not only completely serious, but did this in the midst of one of the most prolonged recessions in recent memory? Most people would feel surprised, confused, or even worried. I am sure this is what went through my wife's head when I told her I wanted to quit a job I had had only for two years—after spending the previous four earning a degree in mechanical engineering.

Joseph and Gina Motzko

Joseph and Gina Motzko

Luckily for me, my wife of less than a year happens to be a school-based speech-language pathologist and has had some experience in counseling and dealing with people in difficult situations. She sat me down very calmly and stated, "So I hear you saying you would like to quit your job." I explained that although my current job wasn't bad, it left me unsatisfied. I was lacking something that I had always held paramount in my life and practiced as often as possible—helping people. My wife was happy with my explanation but, being the level-headed person she is, reminded me that she was in the middle of her clinical fellowship, and we still had student loans from undergraduate school.

I went on a mission to find a career that would engage me, challenge me, and, most importantly, allow me to have a positive impact on other people—while at the same time not waste the past four years and small fortune I spent on tuition. When everything was said and done, I found that audiology's unique blend of science and its ability to help people gain and restore their sense of hearing was exactly what I was looking for. The ability to hear and understand dramatically elevates a person's quality of life and allows them to enjoy many of life's joys they lost with a decline in their hearing.

I enrolled at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania in the fall of 2011 to earn my doctor of audiology. The overlap between mechanical engineering and audiology has appeared often throughout different courses. The Fourier transform in a hearing science class, force vectors in a balance course, and circuits in a hearing aids course are examples of concepts I was exposed to as an engineer and in my audiology courses. I have enjoyed all of my courses and the clinical experience.

At the beginning of my clinical experience, I met a gentleman and his wife for a follow-up appointment to ensure that there were no problems or concerns with his new hearing aids. I can still vividly recall the smiles across their faces. The feeling of satisfaction I had is exactly what I was looking for in a new career. After just two semesters of courses, I have no doubt that I have made the right decision.

Joseph Motzko, a full-time student in the AuD program at Bloomsburg (Pennsylvania) University, is Region 1 delegate for the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association. Contact him at j.j.motzko@gmail.com.

cite as: Motzko, J. (2012, October 09). First Person on the Last Page: Joseph Motzko : Two Professions, One Discipline/Marriage. The ASHA Leader.

The Other Side of the Story

by Gina Motzko

I grew accustomed to the look (eyebrows raised, slight open mouth, and a sharp inhale of breath) when I revealed the "new plan" to friends and family. The conversation typically followed the same path: Yes, Joe has a great job that he wants to quit. Yes, he graduated summa cum laude with a degree in mechanical engineering. No, he doesn't want to be an engineer. Yes, he is going to school for audiology. Yes, it makes sense. No, I am not mad. Yes, we are still married.

When they asked if I, a speech-language pathologist, had convinced my husband to leave a corporate position to pursue a career in audiology, I could only laugh. They didn't know my husband. Joe has very strong moral and ethical platforms and is not easily influenced. Having said that, however, I believe that Joe's witnessing my sincere enjoyment in my career may have had some influence.

I was fortunate to know what I wanted to do early on. I knew I wanted to work in a field related to health care and I knew I wanted to work with children. It was a natural choice for me to choose speech-language pathology. I find my profession to be incredibly fulfilling. I often tell of the joy I find in teaching children how to communicate effectively. In fact, I frequently promote speech-language pathology and audiology as rewarding careers to students entering high school and college. Yet even with all of my outward efforts to promote the professions to others, I was surprised when my husband told me he had an interest in pursuing audiology.

Once the surprise subsided, I grew cautiously excited about the opportunities this new career could offer him. I know he enjoys research and science as well as making a difference in people's lives. I have no doubt that he will be an excellent audiologist. I, on a personal and professional level, have enjoyed discussing his coursework and trying to understand the information he is studying. This experience gives me a broader perspective in speech-language and hearing disorders and I enjoy learning from him daily. We have moved back to our hometown and our families have been incredibly supportive of this endeavor.

Our future is still undecided. We have taken a risk. However, we are incredibly happy and truly enjoying our careers. Isn't that what everyone should strive for?

Gina Motzko, MS, CCC-SLP, is a clinician at Wayne Highlands School District in Honesdale, Pa. Contact her at motzko.gina@waynehighlands.org.


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