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Marquette University Alumni Association

College of Health Sciences Award Recipients

Young Alumna of the Year Award

Karen GeorgeKAREN GEORGE, H SCI '03, GRAD '05

Nine years after graduating, Karen still draws on her Marquette experience daily as a pediatric speech-language pathologist at Chicago Speech Therapy, a speech therapy practice she founded where she’s passionately committed to making a difference in the lives of children.

When Karen started her practice, she never imagined how rewarding it would be.

“Being able to make a real difference in the lives of the families we work with and the deep relationships we form with these families is what I enjoy most,” she says. “I honestly can say that I look forward to going to work every day.”

Karen’s long-term goal is to start a therapeutic early childhood academy led by speech language pathologists, allowing children with special needs to gain confidence in their ability to communicate.

“The better I am as a leader in my practice, the bigger the impact we will make with the children we serve,” she says. “I live out my faith by trusting that I am doing God’s work each day.”

Karen and her husband are expecting their second child in the spring, and her definition of success is deeply tied to her role as a mother and wife, as well as her commitment to service. In addition to conducting free screenings for local schools, Karen in 2010 helped found IMAGAS, or Insight, Mentoring and Guidance for Aspiring Speech Pathologists. The group has more than 2,500 aspiring speech language pathologists who are looking for support in their professional journeys, so Karen and her team provide just that. For the past three years, they also have awarded scholarships for select graduate students, a project on which they’d like to expand.

“Am I being an exceptional mother, wife and citizen? Do I love what I do? Am I making a difference in people’s lives? Am I honoring my passions and principles?” Karen asks. “I always make sure that I can answer ‘yes’ to all four of those questions.”

Fun Facts

Hometown: Chicago

Favorite book or favorite quote:The Four Agreements. This book shares timeless wisdom about being your very best.”

Dream dinner guest: “Mother Teresa comes to mind. She represents someone who was entirely focused on serving others. Her life was and is an inspiration.”

Marquette faculty or staff member who had an impact on you, and how: “Wendy Krueger was my clinical supervisor during graduate school and had an impact on me. During my diagnostic placement, I was evaluating clients with speech and language concerns. At that time, the class was organized so you worked with a partner. There was an odd number of classmates in our class, so I did all the diagnostic testing without a partner. Wendy walked me through this challenging experience. That is something I will always remember. At the time, it was stressful, but it helped me start my career with more confidence.”

What is one of your favorite Marquette memories? “Without a doubt, my most favorite Marquette memory was the 2003 basketball season as Marquette advanced in the tournament. When the team advanced to each round, my friends and I scraped together all the money we could find (with the help of our parents) and made the trip to each city, with the final trip to New Orleans for the Final Four. It is a month I’ll always think of fondly. And I still have a T-shirt that Dwyane Wade autographed at the celebration party in Minneapolis.”

When you were in grade school, what did you want to be when you grew up, and why? “Initially, a neonatal nurse. I wanted to work with babies. When I was in fifth grade, I had the opportunity to observe in a NICU nursery but fainted at the sight of blood. The introduction class for speech-language pathology helped solidify my passion for speech-language pathology.”

Who is your Marquette legacy? “My younger sister Mary (George) Kalhagen attended Marquette for undergraduate and graduate school for speech pathology. I do consider myself from a ‘Marquette family’ as my uncle and first cousin graduated from Marquette and are diehard fans as well.”

Who has been the most influential person in your life, and why? “My husband Quinn is and has been, without a doubt, the most influential person in my life. I cannot think of another person who has more strongly believed in me, challenged me and supported me but also was willing to speak hard truths to me when I needed to hear them. Someone referred to him as my biggest fan. That statement captures his essence. This award could have his name added to it as well. He helped me get out of my comfort zone personally and professionally. He challenged me to follow my heart and my convictions and to persevere when the road was bumpy. With the benefit of hindsight, I am so grateful that I did not let temporary discouragement dissuade me from what is my life’s mission.”