Growing demand for speech-language pathologists

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GREENSBORO, N.C -- From kindergarten through the third grade, Alyssa Cook had a hard time expressing herself.

"I couldn't say my ‘R's’ properly, so I said things like ‘bud’ instead of ‘bird,’” she said.

But Cook overcame that challenge after years of working with a speech-language pathologist, and now that she's an adult she's helping other do the same.

"We work with stuttering, nonverbal kids, kids with autism," Cook said.

She's a second-year grad student at UNCG, just weeks away from graduating and becoming a speech-language pathologist.

"We can work anywhere from a school to a nursing facility," she said.

A career Cook and other students say is booming with jobs.

“I posted my resume on a public forum for speech therapists on a Sunday, Monday morning I woke up and had 30 emails from different recruiters," said Katie Forker, a graduate student.

Program officials say over the past eight years, students have had a 100 percent graduation rate and 100 percent job placement rate.

"Most of the students when they graduate, they have something like one to three different job offers,” said Dr. Kristine Lundgren, UNCG associate professor of communication sciences and disorders.

Lundgren says the high demand for students stems from a shortage of programs across the country that teaches speech language pathology.

"There's a need for more and more people to provide services," she said.

"It's very moving because you help someone who kind of didn't have the ability to express themselves or communicate anything about themselves to now, they can tell you whatever they want," Cook said.