I recently discovered Olivia’s amazing Instagram account @ToTellYourStory. She started the page a couple months ago and uses it to tell inspiring speech and hearing stories. Olivia takes such a thoughtful approach to selecting each story and is now inspiring over 1,000 followers. I wanted to hear more about the project and her passion for speech-pathology. What she shared is both informative and inspiring. Enjoy!
And don’t forget to follow her project @ToTellYourStory
A Conversation With Olivia Kocsis Founder of To Tell Your Story
Q: What's your story? Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and what first got you interested in speech and hearing?
Hi! My name is Olivia Kocsis and I am going to start my graduate career at California State University, San Marcos in the fall to earn my Masters of Science in Speech-Language Pathology! In 2015, during a rehabilitation program following my fifth concussion, I became exceedingly familiar with the term traumatic brain injury. After my recovery, I was eager to learn more about TBIs so I could contribute to the rehabilitation of fellow TBI patients. Following my rehabilitation process, I discovered the field of speech-language pathology and chose to pursue it as a career! The field of speech-language pathology has been one that I have grown to love and develop a passion for.
Q: Was there a personal connection or story that inspired you to choose speech-language pathology?
In my first semester as an undergraduate student at California State University, Long Beach, I was taking the speech-language pathology prerequisite courses and joined Delta Zeta Sorority. Delta Zeta’s philanthropy is hearing and speech, and our national philanthropic partner is the Starkey Hearing Foundation. The Starkey Hearing Foundation is a nonprofit organization that provides hearing aids, hearing healthcare services, speech-language pathology services, and more around the world to individuals that are hard of hearing. The knowledge I was gaining through my courses and the love I was developing for hearing and speech through Delta Zeta continually fueled my love for the field.
My involvement in volunteering directly with the Starkey Hearing Foundation began in 2018 when Delta Zeta hosted a Heart for Hearing contest. If a woman in Delta Zeta raised $5000, she was guaranteed to go on an international hearing mission with Starkey. I was determined to raise the $5000 to attend a mission and, with the incredible support of my family and friends, I was able to raise and donate $5000 to Starkey. I attended an international hearing mission to the Dominican Republic in April 2018. On the mission, I collaborated with audiologists and the Starkey team to assess and fit patients with hearing aids based on their degree of hearing loss. In 2019 through an internship as a Global Marketing and Philanthropy Intern, I was able to return with Starkey on an international hearing mission to Guatemala. On each mission, the moments when an individual was hearing and speaking for the first time was life changing. Resultantly, I became intrigued by the concurrent speech deficits as a result of hearing loss. I plan to work with the hard of hearing population and their families in the future.1
Q: You recently started @ToTellYourStory on Instagram and you've already told so many amazing stories. What inspired this page and what do you hope it accomplishes?
My commitment and love for this field has remained so strong because of how a speech-language pathologist can have such a lasting impact on the life of a patient. When I volunteered internationally with Starkey, the overwhelming amount of joy on each patient’s face when he or she was hearing for the first time was life changing. I am notorious for asking any person I meet, “What is your story,” so when I was learning about the patient through the patient’s family, I came to realize that each patient has such a unique story. When I returned home and was stressed out with my undergraduate coursework, I would look back at pictures of my patients from the missions and it would remind me that I am working hard and studying to change my own patients lives one day soon! I hope that @ToTellYourStory will remind other students, SLPs, and audiologists why they chose this field. Additionally, I hope it will connect people from all walks of life who have similar stories.
Q: Is there one story on the account that has really surprised you or taught you something new?
Each story on this page has inspired me! I have learned more about the struggles that individuals and their families go through when they receive news that their child has hearing loss, cleft lip/palate, and more. I have learned and connected with SLP and audiology undergraduate and graduate students, as well as individuals working for ASHA, and read their story on what drives their passion for the field. This page has allowed me to learn on a deeper and more personal level! I am so grateful for everyone that has shared and allowed me to tell their story!
Q: This is such a unique moment in the world with impacts on students, parents and patients. How have things changed for you in 2020 and how is the Speech-Language Pathology community adapting right now?
2020 has brought so many unexpected changes to all aspects of life. For me, I was going to move to San Marcos, which is near San Diego, for graduate school in August. I was planning on the program having the traditional, in person learning style, where we would also be able to do in person clinic hours. However, the California State University system is requiring that all universities transition to online learning for the fall semester. I do enjoy online classes, but I was not expecting to start my graduate career online. While I am sad that we will be online, I do believe that it is better to be safe than sorry. Also, the facility at San Marcos is absolutely incredible. They are making the transition to online learning seamless. I am so grateful to be part of this program!
Within the field, speech-language pathologists have to be flexible in their day to day practice. The field is facing so many unprecedented changes that are requiring SLP’s to make quick and effective adjustments. For example, teletherapy is becoming quite popular and, for some, is a tool that they will continue to use even when they are allowed to go back to in person therapy. This is a scary time with a lot of unknowns, but I know this field will come out stronger!
Q: Anything else you would like to share?
If you or someone you know would like to tell their story on my @ToTellYourStory Instagram page, please send me a DM! I would love to connect, read about, and share your story!