Northland Pioneer College is a place where people can literally transform their lives. NPC helped former student Patty Singer overcome hardship and failure, and she is now within three years of completing her
doctoral degree! Singer is currently the speech language pathologist at Indian Wells Elementary School (preschool-sixth grade), and on weekends, she provides speech therapy services at a hospital.
When Singer began attending NPC in 2003, she had a lot going on in her life and failed every course. A year later, with the support of a new husband and “extremely supportive” NPC instructors Donna Ashcraft, Sandy Johnson and David Kebler, she excelled. “When I retook the classes that I failed, they were right there pushing and supporting me. It helped me get back on track and prove to myself that my educational goals could be reached,” Singer says.
But she would face another obstacle that would shape her future career. While attending NPC, her four-year-old son was diagnosed with autism. Later, when she was attending Northern Arizona University (NAU), her daughter was also diagnosed with autism. It was hard to find speech therapy services, so she and her husband had to figure out on their own how to help their children. “Those early experiences working with my son to get those first words and gestures out of him motivated me to become a speech pathologist,” she recalls. “My college education was an incredible source of information and comfort throughout those very difficult years. Attending NPC built up my self-esteem and helped me cope with the challenges we faced.”
Through it all, NPC helped Singer transform herself into a top-notch student who earned an NPC All-Arizona Academic Team scholarship. That covered all her tuition costs for her bachelor’s degree studies upon transferring to NAU. There, she earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in clinical speech pathology, along with a Certificate of Clinical Competency from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Now she is midway through a doctoral program at Northcentral University and should complete it in 2021.
“I’m pursuing a Ph.D. in General Psychology with a focus on social psychology and disability studies,” Singer
explains. “My dissertation examines attitudes toward individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities. My ultimate goal is to contribute to improving the quality of life of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. I am so grateful that NPC was there to help me start my education and find my passion.”
At Indian Wells Elementary, Singer identifies students who have communication-based disorders that impact their ability to be successful in the classroom and provides the support they need to succeed. At the hospital, she evaluates patients who have sustained injuries or illnesses that impact their abilities in the areas of cognition, language and/or swallowing and provides the interventions needed to try to bring the patient’s abilities back to their original level.
Singer says, “I love everything about being able to help children communicate, but being able to provide resources and compassion for the parents gives me a huge feeling of accomplishment. I have had the opportunity to help several children say their first words; these are always exciting and emotional moments. There is a look a child gets on their face when they first realize the value of communication; I love that look!”
Singer says NPC launched her on the way to career success, and she expects her children will attend the
college as well. “Once I realized that I could be a successful student, I took off with that knowledge and went on to earn a seat in a highly competitive graduate pro-gram. Many of my former NPC instructors have become dear friends, and I have become a lifelong learner because of their support and encouragement. NPC truly did help me transform my life.”