Mark O'Malia '14: Personal Challenge Leads to Career
As he considered possible careers while still in high school, Mark O’Malia knew he wanted to work with people in some capacity.
He didn't have any clearer ideas, though, until he took an AP Psychology course during his senior year – and fell in love with the course material. That set the Wilkes-Barre native on a path to The University of Scranton, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology with honors in 2014.
O’Malia now works as a speech-language pathologist at the American Institute for Stuttering, a role he calls his dream job.
“I am someone who stutters myself, and it’s something that I’ve experienced my whole life. I struggled with it growing up and it hindered my self-confidence,” O’Malia said. “I wasn't true to myself.”
During his time at Scranton, O’Malia sought out local support groups for stuttering and connected with others who stutter. He also attended the National Stuttering Association’s annual conference in Arizona, which offered workshops and social connections.
“I met so many people and found a community for the first time. I was able to connect with some therapists who are now my co-workers,” O’Malia recalled. “It was such a powerful moment.”
In the summer before his senior year, O’Malia enrolled in a three-week intensive program at the American Institute of Stuttering in New York City. The program entailed not only learning to cope with stuttering but also approaching people on the subway and in parks to survey them about stuttering. He credited the program as being the turning point in his relationship with stuttering and greatly increasing his confidence.
Finding Community Among Psychology Students, Professors
Throughout his time on campus, O’Malia was involved as a research assistant, a teaching assistant in the Psychology Department and vice president of Psi Chi, the international honor society for psychology.
“There was a strong sense of community within the Psychology Department. Professors wanted to make connections with you and pushed you to take advantage of the opportunities that Scranton offers,” O’Malia said.
He recalled his time at Scranton fondly and said it prepared him for his current job as a speech-language pathologist.
“Scranton inspired me and gave me the tools to personally influence other people. I’ve turned this really challenging thing that I dealt with growing up into a positive thing,” said O’Malia, who now lives in Philadelphia.
Making A Difference In Clients' Lives
Upon graduation from the University, O’Malia enrolled at Penn State and earned a master’s degree in communication sciences and disorders in 2017. During his graduate studies, he served as a clinical intern at the American Institute for Stuttering and turned the internship into full-time employment.
O’Malia is proud that he has taken what he learned at Scranton and made a positive impact in his field.
“I work with my clients to collaborate with them, to make their lives feel more manageable, make them understand that their voice matters and they can achieve what they want to achieve,” he said.