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Meet Jessica Hudson of Stuttering and Speech Therapy of Arizona in East Valley

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jessica Hudson.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Jessica. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
As many high schoolers (and adults) may agree, deciding what you want to be when you grow up is a difficult task. I was one of those 18-year-olds who couldn’t really choose one path. Consequently, I decided to try out business school. Once I completed my degree in business management, I set out to start my first business called Perfectly Organized, LLC. I was one of those professional organizers you see on TV helping people dig themselves out from piles of stuff they have had forever. It was fun and challenging and I LOVE organization, but it was not what I was meant to do with my life.

I kept searching and had several jobs along the way but something was missing. I finally had an “ah ha” moment when my sister, seven years younger, started her college journey. She invited me to a university preview day that included break-out sessions for various degree paths. She chose to check out speech-language pathology. My mind began racing during the informational meeting and I was hooked. I left the room thinking, “this is exactly what I am going to do with my life!” My sister had the opposite reaction; she is now a wonderful third-grade teacher. I then began the long and challenging journey of becoming a speech-language pathologist (SLP).

During graduate school, I completed a supplementary externship at a private practice specializing in stuttering. Following this experience, I knew I was meant to work with people who stutter. Patty Walton, the owner of the clinic, was an inspiration like no other and deserves much of the credit for starting me down this path. Upon completing my master’s degree, my husband, two dogs, and I packed up our Colorado house and moved to Arizona. I began work at a large, multi-disciplinary clinic. This is where I gained valuable experience as an SLP and started focusing on where I wanted to take my career.

During graduate school, my vision for the future was to someday start my own private practice. The more experience I gained, the more it seemed like my dream might be achieved sooner rather than later. I started talking to colleagues, friends, and family about opening a private practice that would specialize in stuttering and fluency disorders. With endless planning hours on the phone with my business consultant and close family, I pulled the trigger and opened Stuttering and Speech Therapy of Arizona (SSTA) in early 2016.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
My dad always told us growing up that challenges in life and things which made us try harder would give us character. You asked if starting my business has been a smooth road. Let’s just say, my character bucket is pretty full! Honestly, I don’t know how it’s possible to start and run a successful business without some ups and downs and difficulties along the way. That is how we grow and learn. One of my biggest hesitations was simply jumping in. I can be a perfectionist and like all of my ducks to be in the straightest row possible. That’s not always an attainable goal and if I waited for that straight line, I wouldn’t be here today.

I am a solo practitioner and I wear all the hats: speech-language pathologist by day and office manager, accountant, janitor, travel agent, scheduler, internship supervisor, etc. by night. At times it can be lonely, and at times I am not sure where I will find the time to get it all done. However, I have colleagues across the world with whom I discuss “speechy things” and attend conferences. I do eventually cross things off that to-do list. Despite all of the hurdles I may encounter, deciding to take the plunge and open SSTA has been the best decision I have made.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Stuttering and Speech Therapy of Arizona – what should we know?
Stuttering and Speech Therapy of Arizona is a small, individualized private practice specializing in the evaluation and treatment of stuttering and other fluency disorders. We work with kids and adults of all ages. Our mission is to help every individual communicate confidently and effectively. Often times people who stutter feel held back by their speech and may not participate fully in all communication situations, which we are all in every day.

As I sit here thinking about what I am most proud of, I am tearing up thinking about how proud I am of all my clients for what THEY have done. It warms my heart when a client shares a story of accomplishment during therapy. For example, a client who stutters sharing that they called to order pizza when they haven’t made a phone call in years, or a child who feels confident enough to raise his hand in class. Those are the things that get me up in the morning and remind me why I work as hard as I do. I truly have the best job ever and get to meet the best people in the world!

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
My parents taught me if you want something in life, you work for it. They have shown me what hard work is and I believe that has led to success in my career and business. When I set my mind to something, it is going to become a reality no matter what gets in the way. That perseverance is what got me from just the idea of becoming an SLP all the way to actually opening my own practice.

That perseverance often makes the difference between success and failure in therapy as well. Having a breakthrough with a client that has struggled for years, been through therapy at school, or bounced around from clinic to clinic, always on the edge of giving up, does not come quickly or easily. But with the right approach and willingness to adapt to the client individually, it will come. Having a heart for the people that walk through my doorway, wanting them to be able to communicate to the best of their ability, and caring for each one as the human being that they are, drives me daily to be the best SLP that I can be.

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