Suzanne Ducharme, Communication Disorders, '92

Suzanne Ducharme is a 1992 undergraduate alumna of the Communication Disorders program at UMass Amherst. She also holds an MS degree from Emerson College, CCC-SLP certification, and is the owner of South Shore Speech Pathology Partners.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Suzanne Ducharme. I graduated with a BS in Communication Disorders in 1992.

What is your most memorable moment at UMass Amherst?

I transferred to UMass when I chose Communication Disorders as my major; the college I went to as a freshman did not offer it. I have never regretted making the change. I remember so many things fondly, but mainly for the relationships I developed there. I reconnected with an old friend from high school who remains my best friend to this day, classmates who still mean the world to me, and professors who helped to shape my professional character. I worked very closely with Charlena Seymour, then the director of the program, on projects that led to professional presentations, my first publishing credit, and eventually, a trip to China that was life-changing. And the moments continue, as I had the joy of watching my niece (Danielle Ducharme, '10) graduate from the same program last year.

Describe your professional career.

After UMass, I attended graduate school in Boston at Emerson College. Following graduation in 1994, I completed my residency as a pediatric Speech Pathologist at the Braintree Hospital Pediatric Center, where I stayed for 7 years. I was able to work as part of a large multidisciplinary team, and that job laid the foundation for a very strong clinical career, including the opportunity to develop programs and grow in leadership skills.

In 2001, I started private practice part-time, and did some work in the NICU and in early intervention. After a few months, I went full-time in private practice. In 2005 I incorporated as South Shore Speech Pathology Partners, which continues to be a thriving clinical practice.

How did the SPHHS help you prepare for your career?

UMass provided the solid foundation I needed to survive, and thrive, in graduate school. It was the first step in a career that has taught me more than I could have imagined. I am so grateful to all of my professors who inspired me and made me a stronger student, scientist and clinician.

What advice do you have for SPHHS students interested in your field?

Be as well rounded as you can coming into the profession. Expect to work hard...our field is based in science, but also requires you to develop intuition and judgment and empathy for working with people at one of the most vulnerable times in their lives. And focus on the why of your choice to go into speech-pathology or audiology; it will pull you forward when the work gets hard. Finally, get involved in your state association, and with ASHA. Don't expect everyone else to address your concerns...volunteer for committees and run for office. Stand up and lead...it has been a significant factor in my professional growth.

Is there anything else that you would like us to know about you?

I have spent a lot of time and effort (and money) to continue my education and training beyond the requirements of higher education. That led to opportunities to participate in, and eventually lead, the state association in Massachusetts. I am also now active in the South Shore Women's Business Network, which is a new opportunity for networking and leadership development. Outside of work, I like to read, walk, and spend time with family and friends.

Would you like to have your alumni profile appear here, in our newsletter, and other SPHHS publications? Please email Patrick Freeman.