AGE: 31
OCCUPATION: speech therapist
HOMETOWN: Mount Zion, Illinois
LIVES IN: Gold Coast

“Speech pathology is my passion,” says Nicole Butler of her occupation, which she pursued as an undergraduate at Purdue University and then at New York University, where she earned a master’s degree. Today Butler works at Bell, a Chicago public elementary school in Roscoe Village, where she is a speech therapist and teaches deaf students. They run the gamut, from three- and four-year-olds learning to speak after receiving cochlear implants to older kids who have devised a coded sign language so they can talk privately. “My office is right next to the eighth-grade class,” she says. “You think they’re signing happy this-and-that, but actually they’re talking dirty.” Lately Butler has been taking improvisation and acting classes, working out a lot, and learning how to cook.




Photograph: Maria Ponce