National Stuttering Association

Kelsey SmithInterpreter

    Briefly describe your daily job duties.
    I was an Interpreter while working for the National Park Service. Many duties come with being an Interpreter, including: leading tours, giving visitors the rules before they enter Carlsbad Caverns National Park, and working at the information desk.

    I am transitioning to the United States Forest Service soon and do not know all of my new job duties yet! Some of my responsibilities will be: patrolling the backcountry, writing citations, cleaning the recreation area of trash, and crowd control. I will also have the opportunity to get my red card, meaning I will be able to fight wildfires.

    As a person who stutters, share the most challenging part of your job.
    The most challenging part of my job is when I am having an exceptionally non-fluent day. Even if I do not want to give a tour/program because my stutter is out of control, I still have to do it.

    Did you self-disclose your stuttering during the job hiring process? If so, how did you do it and how do you currently disclose your stuttering at work?
    Yes, I disclosed my stutter during the hiring process. All my job interviews were via phone and my stutter is moderate to severe. Usually all I say at the beginning of an interview is, “I have a stutter.” A few times I have been able to work it into the conversation instead of just blurting it out. When I give tours/programs I tell the visitors I have a stutter. During my five years with the National Park Service. I have told roughly 8,000 visitors I have a stutter!

    Describe how stuttering makes you a better, more valued contributor at work.
    Stuttering makes me a better, more valued contributor at work because I have shown my co-workers that people from all walks of life can work for the National Park Service. I also help them become better listeners and be more patient.

    What is your proudest moment at your current company?
    My proudest moment was when I was working at Carlsbad Caverns National Park. During my first ever Bat Flight Program I had close to 350 people attend. The feeling of telling that many people at once “I have a stutter, so if there is anything you need me to repeat, just ask,” was unlike anything I had ever felt before. It was a freeing experience to be able to say that.

    What are your long-term career aspirations?
    My long-term career aspiration is to be a Chief of Interpretation at a national park. I don’t know which national park, but the beauty of my career is not knowing where you will be in a year or two. There is always adventure while getting to travel and live in some of the most beautiful places in the United States.

    What’s your best advice for people who stutter just entering the workplace and for those in a career striving to achieve greater success?
    Follow your dream job. Do not let the naysayers get you down! Just because we stutter doesn’t make us bad communicators. We have the unique ability to make people better listeners. Some days are going to be rough, but there is always tomorrow.