COE Communication Sciences and Disorders’ 60th Anniversary Alumni Highlight: Howard F. Tanner, II

By Rachel Renou, COE Grad Assistant | Published March 30, 2021

A photo of Howard F. Tanner, II and his wife.
Howard F. Tanner, II and wife, Mollie.
A photo of Howard F. Tanner, II and his wife.

Howard F. Tanner, II and wife, Mollie.

YPSILANTI - Howard F. Tanner, II has had extensive military training including learning Russian in 49 weeks to better equip him in his work. His focus on languages earned him a position as the Master Linguist for the 8th Infantry Division and the 1st Armored Division. In this role he was rated as an Advanced Professional Linguist in Russian, Serbian, and Croatian. In addition, Howard received training in Italian and German.

With an advanced skill in languages, Howard would later use this to serve his community much closer to home. Now an experienced Speech Language Pathologist, Howard reflects on his journey to get the career he now loves and finds purpose in.

After leaving the Army, Howard became Lieutenant at the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office in Michigan. At this time Howard had already completed three degrees including a BA in Criminal Justice and a BA in Russian from Michigan State University, a Masters in Public Administration from Western Michigan University, and his Police Staff and Command Cohort training at Northwestern University.

Starting the journey to be an SLP

As Howard and his wife, Mollie, began planning for a family, and building a home, he started to think critically about the career he was in, and what he wanted to pursue before life got too busy. When deciding which path he would take, Howard focused on how much he admired visiting his wife at work.

A photo of Howard F. Tanner, II's and his wife's children.
Luke, McKinley and Logan Tanner
A photo of Howard F. Tanner, II's and his wife's children.

Luke, McKinley and Logan Tanner

“She is a Special Education Teacher Consultant for Children with Autism; but while we were dating she was a Special Education Teacher. She had so many students (and meetings, IEPs, etc) that if I wanted to spend time with her, it was in her classroom helping out after work. I was able to work with some phenomenal Para-professionals and really liked what the Speech Pathologists did within their scope of practice.”

Howard said the choice to enroll in the Eastern Michigan University College of Education Masters in Speech and Language Pathology (SLP) program was an easy decision. Not only was he close to campus, but because of an SLP alum of EMU who Howard had worked with before raved about the program.

Life challenges, and supportive faculty and staff

With a background as a military linguist/interrogator, Howard felt confident his language skills would help prepare him for the program. Despite being trained in multiple languages, Howard soon realized that the program would be challenging and push him to be his best.

“While it was difficult, it was fair, and the amount of care and support of faculty and staff along with my fellow students was phenomenal.”

Not only did the EMU COE faculty and staff support Howard with his course work, they were there for him when it meant the most. While trying to start a family Howard’s wife lost a baby due to miscarriage. When facing obstacles in life, even as big as losing a baby, Howard felt like he was a part of a family that encouraged him to keep working toward his goal.

“If it had not been for the support and care I received there, I would not have made it."

Your work matters

Alongside the support that Howard received while a student at EMU, he felt compelled to continue working toward his goal of becoming an SLP when he remembered the impact he can have on others. One day during his second clinical he felt defeated hearing about his wife’s second miscarriage. He walked outside of Porter, the College of Education building on campus, and felt like giving up with only 6 months left to go in the program.

“As I looked down the sidewalk, I saw my 88-year-old Korean War Veteran client walking in the rain to come and see me. I figured that if this man felt that I was helping him; what I was doing must mean something. It must matter. I vowed to never give up on myself again.”

Howard did live out his vow to never give up on himself again. Since graduating in 2013 he has served in many SLP capacities. From his program, he learned that there is a broad scope of practices SLPs can pursue and that they are needed in so many environments. He personally enjoys home care and the one-on-one interaction with clients. Currently, he is a full-time Home Health Care Specialist with Henry Ford Allegiance Hospital.

Making the decision to change careers led Howard to a fulfilling and rewarding experience. He took the leap of faith and had help along the way. It is an honorable journey to serve your country, your community, and then serve others within their own homes. Becoming an SLP provided Howard a way to continue serving, impacting others, and being there for his family.

About The College of Education at Eastern Michigan University

Founded in 1849, The College of Education (COE) at Eastern Michigan University (EMU) continues to be one of the largest producers of educational personnel in the nation. The COE includes a comprehensive variety of programs at the bachelor, master and doctoral program level. Non-degree and certifications are also offered through the COE as well. The COE includes departments for teacher education, special education, and leadership & counseling. All of the professional education programs offered by EMU’s COE are accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) and are also approved by the Michigan Department of Education (MDE). The graduates the EMU produces are highly desired in the field, due to the strong reputation the COE has earned throughout their many established years. The COE has been recognized for its strong success rate by U.S. News and World Report’s: America’s Best Colleges.