Debra Kerner, a speech-language pathologist and former trustee for the Harris County Department of Education believes education can set you a part in your career, helping you get ahead in life. Kerner earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Speech Pathology and Audiology from Syracuse University with a minor in psychology. She graduated with a Master of Science degree from Columbia University, specializing in Speech Pathology.

What is your background?

“In high school, I volunteered at the Albany Medical Hospital pre-school program for the deaf and hearing impaired. After graduating from Syracuse University, I was immediately hired by the hospital to work in that same program. As part of our training in college and graduate school, we have internships in various settings. I was lucky in undergraduate school to have student teaching at a school, which served children with more severe disabilities. In graduate school in New York City, I did internships at a Veterans Administration Hospital and a Children’s Hospital, which served children with multiple disabilities. I was fortunate to be able to work with other therapy providers, such as physical therapy and occupational therapy, thus getting a picture of the whole individual and their rehabilitation needs.”

What do you do now?

“Since 1980, I have had a private practice in speech-language pathology, Southwest Speech. Over the years, I have seen clients with a wide variety of speech and language problems, such as autism, learning differences, language delays, aphasia (loss of language), and swallowing problems. I have seen clients in my office, but have also contracted with public and private schools, hospitals, nursing homes, and other entities. I ran for and was elected trustee for the Harris County Department of Education (HCDE). I served from 2009 until this year. HCDE provides special schools for children with severe disabilities, alternative schools for children who got in trouble in their home schools, after school programs, Head Start, adult education, therapy services, and many other programs for people who live in Harris County. I am still interested in giving back to the community and serving in public office to make a difference.”

How does your education help you in your work?

“I could not do this without an education. To work in my field, one needs a master’s degree to get a license as a speech-language pathologist. To keep up with all the changes in the field, one needs to take continuing education courses. People often think of speech pathologists as working with articulation, voice and stuttering. We do that, but we also can do so much more. I like to work with people who have severe disabilities where I can use my experience and knowledge to help them learn to communicate or learn to swallow again. My education helps me help them.”

Richard Carranza is a reporter from the Houston, Texas area and published his first work in 1990. His education includes a bachelor of arts in chemistry from Cornell College, master of science in chemical engineering from Texas A&M University, and a masters of business administration from the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas. In addition to writing, Richard is involved in the design of petroleum refineries, petrochemical plants, oil/gas facilities and ethanol plants. He also carries out writing assignments for publications like Chemical Processing Magazine, Maritime Executive Magazine and Chemical Online.