After a false start in pharmacy school, Alyssa Febo '16 is excited for the career she feels she was destined to have as a speech language pathologist.

Alyssa Febo '16

After a false start in pharmacy, Alyssa Febo '16 of Agawam has found the career she was meant to have in communication sciences and disorders.

With Guidance, CSD Major Finds Her Passion

First-generation college student Alyssa Febo ’16 of Agawam may have taken longer than some to declare her major, but the journey was worth it: She discovered her true passion and her calling along the way.

After a semester at the Albany College of Pharmacy, she realized she didn’t like pharmacy, especially with all the calculus involved. “I realized there was no passion it it for me,” she said.

She transferred to Elms in time to start the second semester of her freshman year. While Alyssa knew she was interested in medicine, and had been accepted into the nursing program at Elms, she was still unsure whether nursing was the place for her. Based on her interests, her advisor, Joyce Hampton, Ed.D., now dean for student success and strategic initiatives, thought communication sciences and disorders might be the right fit. She put Alyssa in touch with department chair Kathryn James, Ph.D.

“Dr. James got me in touch with a speech pathologist, so I could observe her,” Alyssa said. And that’s when everything clicked into place.

“It happened to be the speech pathologist I had worked with as a kid growing up,” she said. “The whole process led me to that one point, and it was a real eye-opener. I thought, I want to help kids like I was helped.”

That speech pathologist for Agawam Public Schools, Holly Fidrych, worked with Alyssa in second, third and fourth grades, and got her properly diagnosed.

“I was diagnosed with a double-deficit disability that affects my processing speed and memory retention, and I have dyslexia,” Alyssa said. “The therapy I received was about finding compensations and strategies to work through my schoolwork to overcome it.”

By the time she reached high school, “I started flourishing,” she said. “I took honors classes, I ended up taking all these AP classes, and then in college I flourished even more once I found my major.”

Alyssa now has a 4.0 GPA and plans to begin applying to graduate schools in January.

"I want to be a licensed speech language pathologist, and then, after I gain some experience after school, I want to open up my own private practice so I can help kids," she said.

Her advice to students struggling to find a major?

“Trust your advisor and the program. There are reasons why they do what they do ,” she said. “And let the process guide you, but then just listen to your heart and your passion.”