American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Kathy Jakielski

Associate Professor/Program Director
Communication Sciences and Disorders

Augustana College, Rock Island, IL

Certificate of Clinical Competence, Speech-Language Pathology

Kathy Jakielski 1998    PhD, University of Texas at Austin
            Communication Sciences and Disorders

1988    MA, University of Texas at Austin
            Communication Sciences and Disorders

1981    BS, Towson University
            Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology

I chose an academic/research career because:
I wanted to live the challenges that a life in academia brings.

What do you do in your career as a teacher, scholar, and/or researcher?
Most faculty positions require that a professor teach, engage in professional activities, and provide service to the campus community. A primary difference amongst faculty positions is the amount of time that one is required to spend on each of these activities. In my position at Augustana College, activities related to teaching constitute approximately 50% of my time, activities related to research/professional development constitute 35%, and activities related to service constitute 15%. When interviewing for a faculty position, it is important to ascertain the institution's expectations to see if they fit with your own personal desires.

I work at a small, private, undergraduate-only college. Every day, I am surrounded by bright, competitive, inquisitive, and hard-working students. When I was a student, I learned best when I was given hands-on learning opportunities, so I wanted to be able to provide those types of experiences in my role as a professor. I sought the position at Augustana in part because high-quality teaching is expected and rewarded. I appreciate that I am paid to sit around thinking of the best ways to impart difficult concepts to small classes of students. Becoming a professor is not about what one does, but rather who one wants to be. Augustana's goals and expectations meshed very well with the type of professor I wanted to be.

How did you get to the position you have today? What were the key factors in your academic/research career decision(s)?
I worked as a full-time speech-language pathologist in a wide variety of clinical settings for approximately 9 years prior to beginning my doctoral program. I enjoyed the daily challenges of working clinically; however, I yearned to develop an expertise in one area of the discipline. I also found that I missed being on a campus, and I began to teach part-time at a small, local college. It was then that I found "phase two" of my vocational calling and decided that I needed to make a change, to get on the path to becoming a full-time professor.

I was not raised in an academic family, although academic achievement always was expected. As an undergraduate student, I was intrigued by the expertise of my professors, by the knowledge they possessed. By the time I was graduating with my bachelor's degree, I aspired to attain that level of knowledge. However, once I completed my master's degree, I also discovered that I was challenged and fulfilled working clinically. Even while working clinically, though, I felt drawn toward returning to school, especially after I began teaching part-time. I also didn't want to look back on my life with regret that I hadn't at least attempted to get into a doctoral program.

What do you like most about your career?
More than anything else, I love the learning and the challenges. I love being around students and scholars on a daily basis. I also love being part of a small research community.

What do you like least about your career?
The time it takes away from my family.

Who are your heroes/heroines?
I respect and admire individuals who push themselves to develop into all that they can be-people who take risks-be it in a classroom, on a sports field, in personal areas of growth. Overall, I admire hard work and am inspired by people who live life working to reach their potential.

What advice would you give to an undergraduate or master's student who expressed an interest in an academic/research career in communication sciences and disorders?
Go for it! The only way to fully understand what it means to be an academic is to begin to experience it firsthand. That firsthand experience begins in a doctoral program. Apply and give it a try.

What was the best thing about your PhD program?
I have two "best things." One is the knowledge to which I was exposed. Another is the depth of the relationships that I formed with mentors and peers. Both were well worth the pain of the process.

If you did your PhD program or your early career years all over again, what would you do differently?
I wouldn't have waited so long to begin!

How do you find balance between your professional activities and your personal life? What do you do to relax?
There is little to no "balance" to be found while holding a full-time, tenure-track/tenured faculty position in CSD. That is not to say that one cannot have rich and fulfilling personal and family lives; however, having an equal balance amongst one's professional career, family life, and personal life is not a goal that is achievable, at least not for any extended period of time. It is difficult to carve out "enough time" for professional endeavors, a family life, and a personal life. Being an academic in CSD is a demanding and time-consuming vocation, and there are many times when family and/or personal sacrifices are not only expected, but required.

Like every other academic I know, I work hard and work long hours. But I also am very involved in my family life, including sustaining a long marriage and raising a son. My professional life provides many direct benefits to my family, but there are sacrifices that they make as well. Daily, I do reserve personal time to swim and run. My life is full and fulfilling, but it is not balanced!

What will you be doing 5 years from now? 10 years from now?
I certainly hope that, more or less, I will be doing what I currently am doing!

 

 

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