Shirley Padilla (Manzanares), '89

When Alumna Shirley Padilla (Manzanares) (’89) was in graduate school at CU, she was passionate about working with Traumatic Brain Injury patients, “I completed an internship at Craig Hospital for Head and Spinal Cord Injuries. My supervisor was a seasoned SLP, Susan Hetherington-Anderson, she was a quadriplegic. She was such an amazing SLP; I aspired to be just like her in my career. I continued working at Craig Hospital for a few years, mostly during summers, covering for Suzie while she was on vacation. Eventually, due to family commitments and time constraints, I opted for a school year schedule in order to have more time with my children.“

We asked Shirley about memories or stories she had from her time at CU, “My CDSS graduating class (December 1989) was very small in comparison to the graduating class before us and the incoming class of mostly out-of-state grad students.There were only 7 of us in all, 6 SLP candidates and one audiology student. The majority of us were married, raising a family, and commuting from the Denver area. We were an “uncharacteristic” cohort for the times, but dedicated and hard-working students, nonetheless. I have great memories of when the cohort rented a hotel room for three or four days, near campus, to cram for comps (comprehensive exams); we really studied!! We were a close knit group, and had to stick together to try to keep up with all of the young, energetic, out-of-state gals. Two of my classmates are still very dear friends of mine today.”

Shirley has been extremely productive in her work with public school districts and universities. "After 21 years of being a school-based SLP, working birth through 21, I am now the SLP Coordinator for one of the largest school districts in Colorado, Jefferson County Public Schools. I support and collaborate with 125+ speech language pathologists and speech language pathology assistants across the district. Additionally, I work with several universities, including CU Boulder, to place graduate externs and SLPA interns in schools and match them with Jeffco SLP supervisors. I love our partnership with the universities and working with our future, aspiring SLPs. Besides enjoying my position as the SLP coordinator and partnering with the universities, my passion is working in the schools, side –by-side with Clinical Fellows, training other bilingual SLPs, and working in schools with a high population of English Language Learners." Shirley is a champion of professional development. She readily points out the importance of ongoing professional development as “crucial and inevitable in our field; we are lifelong learners.” Toward that goal, after many years of working as a school-based SLP at a Dual Language School, Shirley took on another educational challenge. "In May of 2013, I completed a 2-year certification program at Regis University, through the Jeffco Cohort, for Teaching Culturally Linguistically Diverse Learners. That was a fabulous program and I recommend it highly. My latest professional challenge has been partnering with an incredible online therapy company to provide virtual speech therapy services, to Jeffco students at various school sites, via a telepractice model. Telepractice is an evidence-based therapy model that is approved by ASHA." 

We love to find out how alumni occupy themselves when not working. We can report that Shirley lives famiily life as energetically as she does in her career...full-on! She shared some of those activities and passions with us. “I enjoy spending time with my family, organizing and hosting fundraising events for mission trips, teaching Children’s Theater (photo, left), letting off a little steam by doing Zumba, and learning to paint. My son Chris, a professional artist (photo bottom-right), is my art instructor. He runs his own paint and sip classes, it’s a family affair.” (photo, bottom-left with Shirley's son, daughter and brother) 

 Shirley has recently remarried, “I am fortunate to have a very supportive husband, Steve. I have raised 4 beautiful children, am honored to have 2 wonderful step-sons, 3 grandchildren, and lots of parents; we’re the “sandwich” generation. Three of my children graduated from Jeffco Schools, and my youngest is a 5th grader at one of our Dual Language Schools. 

Shirley revealed some very special mentors in her life who happen to be family connections. "My mother, Rose, was a first generation college graduate. She received her Master’s in Counseling at UNC, in the mid-70’s, while raising me and my four siblings.  She is a retired DVR Counselor from the state of Alaska. She is my hero and role model. My step-father is retired from the military (Navy) and from the state of Alaska. My father, Joe, is a retired US Government Meat Inspector, boasting a 30 year career. He’s currently writing a book about his experiences as a USDA Inspector."

"My step-mother, Minerva Windham Padilla, was a speech pathologist for 30 years, is a Jeffco retiree, and is a published writer/poet. Minerva was the first speech pathologist I had ever met, after knowing since high school that a career in communication disorders was what I wanted to pursue. I am extremely blessed and so very proud of my family.”

Shirley’s future plans are specific and given her accomplishments thus far, we can rest assured that she will continue to make us extremely proud. “My future plans are to continue working at the state level on the Speech and Language Advisory Council as the Southwest Metro Regional Representative, continue working with the Colorado Bilingual SLP Providers group, continue mentoring university students and SLPs new to the field, and to finish out an amazing and fulfilling career with Jefferson County School District.”

We are proud to recognize your contributions as one of our alumni, Shirley!