NSA intern Jen Lindstrand was recently able to connect with Mike Molino, person who stutters (PWS), NSA Chapter Leader, and future SLP.  Check out her interview with him below!

Jen: Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from and what do you do, Mike?
Mike: I was born a raised in San Jose, CA.  After graduating from Live Oak High School, I attended Evergreen community college in San Jose. With a couple years of getting very little accomplished, I joined the Navy.  My initial thoughts were to go see the world, have some fun, and maybe after few years I’d become more disciplined in the world of academia.

After 24 years of naval service I settled down in Sacramento and it just so happened that California State University-Sacramento had a Speech Pathology program. I graduated with a B.S. in Speech Pathology and Audiology in 2014 and am currently in my 2nd year of their Speech Pathology Graduate program.

JL: Wow! The Navy! That’s amazing. Thank you for taking the time to serve our country. Was it tough for you being someone who stutters while in the military?
MM: “Tough” might be an understatement for some. In a physical sense, it was a walk in the park. Now imagine yourself having to state your name and social security number everywhere you went. Being a PWS it can be daunting just waiting for your turn in line, like counting how many turns it was before you had to read aloud in class.  As the weeks passed it became easier to navigate through those moments.

JL: I can imagine that being hard but I’m sure it was easier as time went on. Do you have any advice for those who stutter who want to serve in the military?
MM: I say, go for it! Set a goal, put your mind to it and carry on, if not life will pass you by.

JL: That’s very true! Can you tell me a little bit about your involvement with the NSA?
MM: I have been the chapter leader for the Sacramento group for nearly 4 years now and previously co-led in San Diego for about 6 months before the Navy decided I needed to move to Hawaii (yes, I know, hard life), and was the chapter leader in Seattle for a couple years.

JL: How do you think your life would be different had you not gotten involved with the NSA?
MM: I am a firm believer that everything you do is for reason. I can honestly say I would not be so open with my stuttering if it were not for the NSA.

JL: It’s great to know the NSA had such an impact on you! What made you want to go into speech pathology?
MM: I felt that I had a special connection to people with communication disorders. It’s not about the title, the money, and or the prestige. It’s about helping people communicate.

JL: Being a person who stutters, do you see your stuttering different now, given your knowledge and work as a speech pathologist, compared to before you began this career path?
MM: I don’t know if I can say it’s different. My knowledge as a speech pathology grad student hasn’t even scratched the surface of a profession that has too many specialties to list. I tend to think in terms of how and why these days. It’s not about how I might have stuttered, because we all know how we stutter. It’s about why I stuttered, what was the reason that led me to stutter. It’s about figuring out the why so I can educate myself. It’s not about educating myself so I don’t stutter, it’s about educating myself so I stuttering more fluently the next time.

JL: I think that’s great! Educating ourselves is always useful, in anything, and that’s certainly true when it comes to stuttering. For anyone who is considering getting involved with the NSA, but isn’t sure or is fearful, what would you say to them?
MM: Getting involved with any support group is fearful and fearing the unknown is natural. Don’t let fear be disabling! Don’t let fear define you! Give it a try. It is life changing knowing you’re not alone.

JL: As people who stutter, we all have moments where we have been embarrassed, ashamed, or struggled with our speech, especially while were growing up or in school. Do you have any advice to someone who may be struggling right now with their speech or going through a rough patch?
MM: I consider myself very open about my stuttering now. This doesn’t mean that I still don’t feel the struggle at times. All I can say is that when moments of struggle hit me, I usually take a moment or to think about what is going on and then carry on. Talking about my struggles with somebody else helps tremdously, especially if it’s another PWS. Our local chapter has a private group on FB that is used for this very reason. Sure we all have friends and family that we can confide in, but nothing beats chatting with another PWS.

JL: Any final thoughts or things you’d like to share with our readers?
MM: Stuttering is not defining. I constantly see negative posts on social media in-regards to stuttering… And until we embrace our speech, we will only see the negatives. Two negatives make a positive, right! So get out there and be positive!

JL: I completely agree with you. I frequent some of the stuttering social media pages as well and it really saddens me to read about such negativity and limiting belief systems. It’s really no way to live. Being positive and giving it your all is the only way to go! Thank you, so much, Mike for taking the time to speak with me today!