Gretchen VanMiddlesworth ’98 and Orna Kempler-Azulay ’98 were classmates and friends while attending Pacific’s master of arts in communicative disorders program. They both graduated from Pacific in 1998. After Orna moved to Pennsylvania, she founded Abington Speech Language Pathology Service, Inc. (ASPS) in 1999. Orna invited Gretchen to join ASPS in 2006 as the West Coast Clinical Director. Gretchen brought to ASPS healthcare experience in outpatient, acute care, acute rehabilitation, home-health, and sub-acute settings. Gretchen also worked in public schools with elementary school-aged children.

Abington Speech Pathology Services, Inc. is a contracting agency serving the Philadelphia Tri-State area as well as Los Angeles and Orange Counties in Southern California. Abington offers the following services: speech pathology, physical therapy, occupational therapy, educational psychology, and teaching of the visually and hearing impaired. Abington currently has 160 therapist/contractors in both educational and medical settings.

As the West Coast Clinical Director, Gretchen says that she loves to hire Pacific graduates. When she hears that a Pacific graduate is moving to Southern California, she gets in touch with them. “Every time I see Pacific on a resume—I say to myself, I’m going to get them!” Gretchen exclaimed. Over the last six years Gretchen has hired eight Pacific speech-language pathology gradudates for Abington. Two alumni are currently employed; one in a hospital setting, and one at a school and hospital. “Pacific grads are truly different. They are well-spoken, very professional, extremely educated, well-prepared, and informed”, Gretchen stated.

Orna, Abington President, says, “We know the education Pacific graduates possess. It is consistent and of high quality. When they come to us we help them grow professionally.”

In March of this year, Gretchen, Orna, and fellow alumna Amy Reeves ’05, who is also an Abington employee, hosted a dinner for graduating speech-language pathology students. “We gave a three hour talk, reviewed resumes, interviews, and explained each setting. My big advice to students would be to not feel locked into one place. You will do yourself a disservice if you think you have to stay. Speech-language pathologists have so many other opportunities!” Gretchen explained. She went on to say, “Contracting with Abington brings a variety of experiences.

By Susan Webster
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