Program welomes largest group of males ever
to enroll in the same year

Ryan Holmes has plenty of experience breaking through doors.

Stationed in Iraq in 2004, Holmes assisted his platoon in house-to-house searches during Operation Iraqi Freedom 2.

Now, as a first-year graduate student in UA’s School of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, Holmes and four other men are breaking through stereotypical barriers as the largest group of males ever to enroll in the same year in the traditionally female-dominated program.

5 guys

Left to right: Johnathan Merwin, Paul Sabo, Mitchell Warmbein, Ryan Holmes, Joseph Holodnak

“I guess I’ll need to change my dress code speech,” clinic director Andrea Brewer said.

Brewer and her colleagues are thrilled to see such a capable group of men integrate their program.

According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), less than four percent of industry professionals are male.

“We are so pleased to have five wonderful young men in our graduate program this year. The male perspective in the classroom is a welcome addition to class discussions and projects,” said School Director Dr. Roberta DePompei.

On the advice of a friend, who received both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from UA in Speech-Language Pathology, Holmes came to UA as a non-traditional undergraduate student.

Tricia Kline Halenar ’05, ’07 pointed the U.S. Army veteran in the direction of the Polsky Building five years ago. His career ambition is to assist former soldiers in a VA or military hospital setting. Holmes had worked for Brinks security in Akron and was considering a career in law enforcement or fire protection before acting on his friend’s suggestion.

Each man brings an interesting and varied background into the program

Joseph Holodnak is from North Royalton, Ohio, and completed his undergraduate degree at Ohio University.

“There was something about brain injury that fascinated me,” he said.

A shadow experience while in high school piqued his interest in the profession. Holodnak enjoys snowboarding and does so he said, “With a helmet!”

Pittsburgh, Pa., native Mitchell Warmbein earned his Bachelor’s degree in vocal performance at Otterbein University. He has sung with the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh and sees professional voice rehabilitation as a specialized interest.

Like father, like son. Paul Sabo was introduced to the profession by his father, a speech-language pathologist, and now envisions working with a geriatric population. He is a UA graduate from Hiram, Ohio.

Formerly a speech-language aide for two Burlington, Vt., middle schools, Johnathan Merwin hails from Massillon, Ohio, and is fascinated by the science of communication. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh.

UA typically receives about 300 applications annually for its Master’s program in Speech-Language Pathology and accepts 40 students annually into the two year program.

Story by Jeffrey Brewer