Alumna of the Month
Tracey Delio ’93, ’97 has been providing speech and language services to toddlers, preschoolers and school-aged children on Long Island for the last 15 years while also becoming a successful children’s book author. Louie V Trims the Tree is Tracey’s third book in The Secret Adventures of Louie V series and will be available in September 2011.
She has been traveling all over the country sharing Louie V with the masses. These books provide the answer to that elusive question, "What did Louie V do all day while I was out?" The Secret Adventures of Louie V and Louie V Takes the Cake chronicle the escapades of Tracey’s Siamese cat, Louie V.
Tracey earned a bachelor’s degree from Hofstra in teaching the speech and hearing handicapped as well as a master’s degree in speech-language pathology. Past experiences include providing school-based therapy to middle and high school students with speech impairments and learning disabilities.
Tracey has worked extensively with professionals on interdisciplinary teams, which has broadened her knowledge base on a variety of disabilities. Her areas of special interest include motor speech disorders, sensory integration disorders, early language development and PDD/ Autism Spectrum Disorders. She has worked side by side with ABA teams to facilitate speech and language development among those diagnosed with ASD. Tracey is a certified PROMPT instructor and teaches workshops in various locations throughout the United States.
Tracey is deeply involved in a number of charitable organizations, including the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Autism Speaks and VH1 Save the Music. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of The Secret Adventures of Louie V will be donated to these charities. Each of the charities support children and strive to make their futures bright and prosperous. Information about these charities can be found under the links section at www.louievadventures.com.
What was your favorite class and who was your favorite professor at Hofstra?
It is so hard to pick my favorite class at Hofstra. As an undergraduate, I had a dual major of English and Teacher of the Speech and Hearing Handicapped. One of my requirements was a public speaking course with Dr. Joanna Quinoa. I was terrified to take this course because I had to speak in front of people. This course turned out to be one of my most memorable and important courses of my career. Dr. Quinoa broke down public speaking to its simplest form, making it easier to picture myself in front of a room full of people. She taught me to be an active listener and how to structure a speech in an entertaining and informative way. All the skills I learned in that class are ones I use on a daily basis. I am constantly addressing large groups of people both as a PROMPT instructor to other speech pathologists and as an author. I recently addressed a graduating class at a high school, and I thought back to that wonderful class with Dr. Quinoa as I was writing my speech. As it turns out, the course I feared the most turned out to be the one that impacted my life both personally and professionally.
What was your first job after graduating from Hofstra, and what was the most valuable thing you learned there?
After I graduated from Hofstra, I started my first job as a teacher of the speech and hearing handicapped. I was offered a leave replacement position at Nassau BOCES at the Eagle Avenue Middle School. I had always seen myself working with preschoolers, yet I was placed with adolescents. This twist of fate turned out to be an asset to me professionally, as not many speech language pathologist educators have middle school experience. The most valuable thing I learned was how important it is to respect and learn from other talented professionals that you have had the opportunity to observe. There is always something to be learned. Everyone has special gifts, so you should always observe your co-workers and soak in their expertise.
What is your field of specialty, and how did you come to work in the industry?
As a speech pathologist, my specialty is motor speech disorders and PROMPT. After leaving the public school setting and going into private practice, I was always eager to learn and keep current in new techniques. I took a PROMPT course and knew that by completing the certification process, I would be able to help so many children speak and would further solidify my understanding of motor learning and executing motor acts. After completing certification, I was asked to be an instructor and teach other speech language pathologists. As an author, I continue my work with children by fostering their imagination and creativity. I always wrote, but once my cat Louie V entered my life, I knew I had to share him with the world! So, The Secret Adventures of Louie V series was born.
What at Hofstra gave you your edge?
Hofstra had, and continues to have, an outstanding speech program. The professors were knowledgeable and were always available to students. The course work was extensive, and the level of excellence was second to none. I had the privilege of attending Hofstra as an undergraduate and then went on to be accepted into its graduate program. I hate to use the cliché that college makes us more “well rounded,” but my education was so balanced that I felt I had a solid basis to continue on in this challenging field no matter where the path of life was to take me.
What advice would you give current Hofstra students?
Whenever I am asked to give advice to students, I am humbled and immediately think, “I can’t believe they would listen to me.” I think that thought alone speaks volumes. I would tell students to never settle for the status quo, always continue to be better and learn more. Learning happens every day and keeps us fresh. The other piece of advice is to not take yourself so seriously. Life is a journey, and we keep growing. Your experiences will take you to places you might not have planned, but might be pretty fantastic!
In one word, how would you describe Hofstra?
How did you develop a passion for storytelling?
I realized that I could write a decent story when I was in the fifth grade. The assignment was to cut a picture out of a magazine and create a story around that picture. Week after week my story made the bulletin board in the classroom. It was then that I realized I could create stories that people enjoyed. I continued to write as a hobby for most of my adult life.
How does being a successful children’s book author impact your life?
Being an author is an unbelievable dream come true. Creating The Secret Adventures of Louie V series has allowed me to see that a simple thought can become an amazing thing. I pose the question, "What did Louie V do all day while I was out?" to the children I have the pleasure of sharing my books with as I visit schools around the country. Their responses never cease to amaze me. "He is playing poker, having a dance party, drawing you a picture, tearing up the house, ordering pizza,” and, of course, the ever popular “going to the bathroom." The possibilities are limitless, and this simple question inspires the children to channel their creativity into stories about their own pets. Louie V is such a source of love and inspiration for me, so I feel blessed that I am able to share him with children and have him inspire a new generation of writers and animal lovers.
Who were your favorite childhood authors? How did they influence your writing?
As a speech-language pathologist, I always read to children. One of my favorite children’s book authors is Mo Willems. Mo’s main character in his Pigeon books is so arrogant and sassy that I immediately fell in love. He creates characters that are funny yet real. I used his influence as I created Louie V. Louie V really characterizes everything a child is: imaginative, mischievous, and loving!