Dear Rachel: A Letter to My Former Colleague, Mentor and Friend {Day 17}

Dear Rachel,

I arrived on the scene as a newbie. It was my first job out of graduate school, and everyone else on our early intervention team was at least 15 years older than me. I quickly discovered that there was a wealth of wisdom and knowledge to gain from women who had been in the field much longer than me. I was fortunate, really, to have started my career with such wise and experienced colleagues. I’m not sure how I lucked out, but I landed a desk next to you! Rachel, master speech-language pathologist, early interventionist. You’re the one that guided me through that first year when our caseloads were sky high, you’re the one that convinced me I really didn’t have to do a lesson plan for every single therapy visit, you’re the one who taught me to be creative and think outside the box. You’re the one who modeled passion. You stood confident in your beliefs about what was best for families and children with disabilities, and because of you, I learned to speak up and stand confident as a professional.

Seven years later, the part-time leave of absence I’d taken to be home more with my kids ran out, so I was told I’d need to return to a full-time contract. You’re the one that guided me through that reality. You supported my decision to leave and begin my own private practice. While there were no guarantees, and you and others were sad to see me go, you believed I would be successful. Since I left and began my private practice more than six years ago now, you’ve checked in regularly and reassured me I could go any which way with the practice. You’ve listened to my doubts, my fears, my uncertainties, my questions – more than once. You’ve kept me grounded in little doses of reality, yet you’ve made me feel strong, worthy, capable of anything. You’ve consistently sought my council and feedback on things that matter to you, and that’s meant a lot to me.

You’ve been a colleague and you’ve been a mentor, but you’ve also been a friend. A friend 20-21 years older than me, sure, but a wise friend indeed. We’re well matched, the two of us, in a ying and yang sort of way! You’re the first person I saw demonstrate real passion in their personal and professional life. I needed to know more about that passion. I needed to see that passion in action. We’ve laughed together and we’ve engaged in conversation as if we’re age peers. You shared your grad school buddies and let me in on the fun year after year at the national convention. You’ve never made me feel less than because I was younger or had less experience, and you’ve always given me the freedom to be myself.

For all these things, for all these years, I’m grateful.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart,


*If you’d like to read more from my #31Days Letters to the Unthanked series, click here for the landing page where all the letters are listed and linked!

  1. Nicole Marie Newfield says:

    Got to love our Rachel Arntson! We miss you in the office, Amy!

  2. Rachel Arntson says:

    Oh also, thank you for including the picture when I am very young and have a CLEAN DESK. That was the first and only time! 🙂

  3. Rachel Arntson says:

    Oh Amy, You are beyond sweet to write this thank you letter to me. As I wrote on FB, I am very humbled. I feel the same about you. As you know, I am very unorganized and can get so ovewhelmed with the details of our work. But you handle it with ease. You are not only a master clinician, but a master at the business aspects of it as well. I admire that combination so much. My lack of that combination is probably the reason I have never dared to go out there and do what you did. So thank you, Amy. It must be “Mutual Admiration Day”, and you started it. Thanks again.

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