Michael (Mike) was born and raised in San Jose, CA. Prior to pursuing a graduate degree in Speech Pathology he served in the US Navy for 24 years, and although he has been retired for 9 years, he still remembers that part of his life just like it was yesterday. Mike has two grown children and has been married to his wife Teresa for 27 years. They currently live in the greater area of Sacramento CA.
Like many people who stutter, he spent numerous years receiving speech therapy as a child. He remembers his mother taking him to Dr. Greenleaf’s private practice,
where he would introduce puzzles to him. Back then Mike wasn’t sure what he was supposed to do other than solve the various types of puzzles, but now, thinking back, he thinks that the puzzles were meant to be a motivator to get him to talk. His first speech therapy experience was short-lived. Later, Mike recalls being in the third grade and the class having to split up into reading and math circles, and it was then when he noticed he was not like his other classmates, as he was the only one who stuttered. Mike started speech therapy once again and continued to attend until the 7th grade, when he finally spoke to his mother and told her he wanted to stop.
Mike first heard about the National Stuttering Project (before it was called the NSA) back in 1986; however, it took him over a decade to get to a chapter meeting. He recalls reading about the Seattle NSA Conference. He showed up, but didn’t have the courage to walk in. He just sat in the lobby and watched person after person walk by. Later that fall he finally attended his first NSA meeting in Seattle, a chapter he later would lead. Being a Navy man, he was transferred a lot, but once he settled in Sacramento, he joined their chapter and has now been Sacramento’s Chapter Leader for eight years. He is also the Southwest Regional Coordinator for Adults and Family programs and has been a Stutter Social Host for nearly four years.
Nowadays not much gets in Mike’s way: while serving in the Navy he was a shipboard Damage Control and Engineering Team trainer, a Fire Marshal, a facilitator, and leader of 100+ people. He has given numerous interviews to local newspapers, interviewed on TV, and even gave the commencement speech when he graduated with his Master’s degree in Speech Pathology. Just prior to giving his commencement speech, he was interviewed by the local NPR station in Sacramento, and when he was asked why he would agree to give a commencement speech in front of about 10,000 people when he stuttered he simply said, “they are giving me 2 minutes (which extended to nearly 3 minutes) to bring awareness to stuttering, it was an opportunity that I could not pass up.”
Looking back, he would tell his younger self to not worry about teasing, not worry about bullies, not worry about making phone calls, not worry about going through the drive-thru, not worry about what other people might think or what you might perceive them to think. “Just be yourself, and at the end of the day, let being yourself be your motivator. Sure, there will be shame and fear, but you will eventually forge them into purpose. Life is a journey and some journeys have bumpy roads and some have smooth roads. Whether the roads are bumpy or smooth, we can only hope that our journey leads us to breathtaking views along the way.”
David Alpuche was born and raised in México City, where he lived most of his life before calling Dallas, TX home. He has been stuttering since the age of four, though his outlook on stuttering has changed drastically. David attended his first NSA conference in Ft. Worth in 2011, and says life hasn’t been the same since. Professionally, David is a full-time photographer (mostly weddings, photojournalism and fine art) who dabbles in writing and translating. He is the current Chapter Leader of the Dallas, TX Adult NSA Chapter, and was awarded Chapter Leader of the Year (with co-leader Sivan) in 2017. David has been commissioned to write a series of spotlight pieces on our Chapter Leaders and Regional Chapter Coordinators.