Professor of Music
Mississippi State University
Briefly describe your daily job duties.
I teach percussion instruments in both individual and group settings. This involves private lessons, as well as leading and directing the percussion ensemble, marching band drumline, and steel drum band. I also serve as Recruiting Coordinator for the department, where I organize events both on and off campus to attract prospective students to our program.
As a person who stutters, share the most challenging part of your job.
My stuttering usually occurs when I’m tired or have had to speak for a long time, which can happen toward the end of a long day of teaching or an especially full week of events. My particular stutter consists more of “blocking” than typical repetition of sounds, so it can create a lot of physical tension in body in my body, as well.
What are your long-term career aspirations?
I just enjoy the variety of teaching, performing, publishing, composing, and service that life at the university has afforded me. Each semester brings in new students, situations, and opportunities, so there is always something I didn’t anticipate before, and that’s enough to keep me busy for a long time
Did you self-disclose your stuttering during the job hiring process?
If I suspect my stuttering is going to affect my speaking during an event (interview, lecture, or presentation) I will usually work it into what I am talking about, such as stating how playing music helped me develop positive self esteem in my youth despite being a stutterer. Usually, doing this will lessen my own anxiety and my speech will be more fluent. Either way, it becomes less of an issue and people seem fine with it either way.
What is your proudest moment at your current company?
Witnessing the growth in our program over the years and seeing former students now working and supporting their own families as professionals has been especially meaningful.
Describe how stuttering makes you a better, more valued contributor at work.
I think stuttering has always made me a hard worker. Having to work to do something everyday that most other people take for granted has created a resiliency and work ethic that I can carry over to other challenging situations in my work.
What’s your best advice for people who stutter just entering the workplace and for those in a career striving to achieve greater success?
Everyone is different in the severity and frequency their stuttering, but two thing we all have control over are the quality of work we can do at our jobs and how we treat others around us. Capitalizing on this will far outweigh any perceived shortcomings in how we speak.