The Tools and Techniques I Learned at Hollins Transformed My Life

Stuttering made me feel badly about myself and impacted all aspects of my life. I would go to great lengths to avoid situations where I would have to talk because I didn’t want to embarrass myself.

In spite of my speech issues, I went on to earn my Ph.D. and took a faculty position at a large university. Yet when I was teaching, sometimes my vocal chords would close up unexpectedly and I couldn’t talk.

At professional meetings, I would leave the room when it was time for everyone to introduce themselves for fear that I wouldn’t be able to say my name. At social gatherings, my husband did the talking for both of us. I felt it was a burden on him with my not being able to introduce myself or hold a conversation.

I almost turned down the presidency of a professional organization out of fear of giving the welcoming speech at meetings. I accepted the position and started a tradition of having the vice president give the opening remarks instead of me.

After years of avoiding situations that required me to speak, I learned about HCRI and participated in the program. It was intense work and I knew I would need to practice regularly once I left the institute. It took about a year until everything clicked and I had the confidence to speak fluently without visualizing each word in my head.

The tools and techniques I learned at Hollins transformed my life. Now I give speeches regularly and make “cold calls” asking people to support philanthropic causes. I’m also in charge of a major fundraising gala and am preparing to talk before 700 people.

I couldn’t have done any of this without Hollins. I would advise people who stutter to be kind to themselves. Attend HCRI, have faith in yourself and be patient. With dedicated effort and ongoing practice, the program will help you.