Ms. Kara Tignor, M.S., CCC-SLP
Interim Executive Director for the Loyola Clinical Centers
Kara Tignor, M.S., CCC-SLP, Interim Executive Director for the Loyola Clinical Centers (LCC), received both her B.A. and M.S. in Speech-Language Pathology from Loyola University Maryland. She has been with the Department of Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences for 10 years. In addition to her current position, she has also served as the LCC Division Director, a clinical supervisor, and a full-time instructor at the undergraduate level.
Where are you from?
I was born in South Carolina and moved to Savannah, GA when I was 5 where I stayed until graduation from high school – I consider Savannah my “hometown.” While I haven’t lived there since 1987, Savannah is still one of my favorite places to visit.
Why did you choose to attend Loyola?
I have an aunt who is a nun and who, during my high school years, was a guidance counselor in an all boys’ Catholic School in NJ. She sent me information about Loyola. I knew I wanted to leave the south for college and I fell in love with Loyola’s campus on my visit to Baltimore. One fun fact that I’ll never forget during my tour in 1986 was that the current Diane Geppi-Aikens turf field was considered to be the “4th largest AstroTurf in the continental United States.” That wasn’t what sold me on Loyola, but is something that has stuck with me all these years. I have never regretted the decision to come to Baltimore and attend Loyola. I still look at it as one of the best decisions I’ve made!
What did you plan to study at Loyola as an undergrad?
In high school, I was a gopher/runner for law firms: I picked up what was needed for the day and spent the afternoon walking around Savannah going to the courthouse, banks, and other law offices – just doing whatever was needed. Based on that, I wanted to be a lawyer, so I came into Loyola thinking I was going to major in Political Science and then go to law school. After two semesters of Political Science courses, I knew that major wasn’t for me. I then switched to be a math major thinking that I would teach math at the high school level. Again, the courses were good, but it wasn’t for me.
When did you realize your passion for speech-language pathology?
As a child, I had a tongue thrust and my dentist told me that if I didn’t correct it, I would have to get braces. So he (dentist) referred me to a speech-language pathologist named Lynne Meeks. Lynne had polio as a child so was wheelchair bound, but she was amazing! Once a week, I had 30 minutes with her where we played games and had fun, all while doing my exercises to correct my tongue thrust. I was only 11 years old and never thought about this as a career path, but I guess it stuck in the back of my mind. After deciding that I wasn’t going to be a lawyer or a math major, I took an intro course, Voice & Diction, in the Department of Speech-Language Pathology and LOVED IT! It fit, it clicked, and I was interested in everything that was being taught, so that is when I decided to declare this as my major. I was late in doing so – 2nd semester of my sophomore year – but I enjoyed all of my courses in the major and looked forward to learning as much as I could about it.
Did any Loyola faculty member have a lasting impact on you and why?
I had so many amazing professors, some of whom are still at Loyola and are now colleagues of mine. Dr. Sally Gallena taught my Voice class and had young children at the time. It was great to see her as both an amazing teacher and mother. Dr. Lisa Schoenbrodt who is now our Chair, taught me in graduate school and, like Dr. Gallena, she was a mother and professor. Dr. Libby Kumin was the department Chair when I was here and is still here today. I developed a wonderful professional relationship with John Sloan who is currently at HASA. He was the first person to tell me that someday I needed to teach at the university level in this field. His words and advice always stuck with me and here I am today!
What do you love most about the field of SLP?
In terms of practicing, I love helping others communicate better. Whether it is with adults or kids, the feeling you get for helping individuals be more successful with their communication is an amazing feeling. I also love the flexibility in terms of career paths that this major affords. With my degree, I have been able to work in schools, private practice, neuro rehabilitation settings, pediatric hospitals and now at the university level, training other students to practice. I have worked part-time and full-time and have been able to raise a family throughout. My professional experiences have introduced me to many different fields including OT, PT, psychiatry, psychology, special education, and a variety of medical professions. I have worked with amazing people and learned so much from each of them.
What advice would you give someone interested in studying SLP?
Take it all in! Your professors have all worked in this field for a long time and have so much to offer in terms of sharing their experiences and guiding you throughout both your UG and graduate programs. Get to know your professors and supervisors: ask them what they have done professionally and what they wish they had done differently. Be open to all different types of experiences. You may think you only want to work in the medical field but then a school placement completely changes that or vice versa.
What is your favorite/most challenging/rewarding part of your current position?
My favorite part of my job is two-fold: I work with the most dedicated and talented faculty around! I get to see firsthand how each of them train our students and how passionate they are about both their client care and student training. At the academic level, the professors are top notch! They each bring so much to their classrooms and truly enjoy what they do. The other part of this conversation is the interactions with the students. Whether teaching them at the UG level or supervising them in their graduate training, I love seeing them in action every day. I see their growth and get to witness their excitement for small accomplishments throughout their program. It is so rewarding to watch the students walk across the stage at graduation in May. I have seen how hard each of them have worked and know that they are all going out into the world with a piece of Loyola and our Department with them. To know that I had a part – even if it’s only a small part – in their time at Loyola is a very rewarding feeling.
The most challenging part for me continues to be the balance between being a mom and being a professional. It’s something that comes with being a working mom, but I wouldn’t trade any part of it.
What do you like to do outside of work?
I love the beach and don’t get there nearly as much as I would like to. In Savannah, the beach was 20 minutes from downtown, so it was extremely easy to just wake up and go for a few hours. I have three of the most amazing daughters ever, so for the past 17 years, my favorite hobbies are watching my girls grow up, play sports and just become amazing young women in all that they do. There is no greater feeling in the world and I don’t think that any hobby will ever be as rewarding or satisfying as this one!
Previous Spotlight On...