Michael Van Ossenbruggen, Jr.

Degree: Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology

College: Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing & Health Sciences

Michael Van Ossenbruggen, Jr. always expected his chosen career path would involve helping others. He did not expect a shoulder injury would steer him toward helping people through speech-language pathology.    

In 2015, following seven years as a vehicle operator for the U.S. Air Force, Michael felt it was time to revive his original goal of continuing his education at FIU. He brought his years of service to bear as FIU’s Student Veterans of America Chapter President, laying the groundwork for student veterans with disabilities to have free access to the university’s transportation service; organizing “ruck marches” to raise suicide awareness; and organizing Christmas card drives for the VA hospital and deployed military members.

While recovering from surgery for a shoulder injury sustained on deployment with Special Operations Command Central, Michael had an epiphany – although he could communicate the pain he was enduring, many people could not. This newfound passion to help others express themselves led him toward a degree in speech-language pathology.

During the program, Michael worked with autistic children and tutored students after school. As President of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association, he petitioned the City of Coral Gables to activate 911 texting to enable people with communication disorders to communicate with operators in emergency situations.

After graduation, Michael plans to work with veterans who have service-connected disabilities or neurological issues while continuing headlong into community service to help people.

By Rachel Carpio
Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing & Health Sciences