Flagstaff, AZ – Jessica Chavez is 20 years old and well on her to achieving her goal of becoming a speech pathologist, helping children with speech challenges.
Jessica explains, “Starting when I was in high school, I’ve always wanted to work in a career where I can help people. At first I wanted to be a nurse and when that didn’t happen, I soon found that speech pathology is a good fit for me. From a personal perspective, my dad used to stutter when he was in middle school and in high school, so I have a connection there, as well.”
Jessica adds, “You can work with any age group but I’m looking forward to working with children with communication disorders, which includes; having a cleft palate, stuttering, fluency, or having a lisp. I would basically be providing them with therapy they need to improve.”
Jessica was born in Whittier, California but raised in the Phoenix-suburb of Surprise from the age of ten. Jessica graduated from Willow Canyon High School in Surprise, and is now pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Speech Language Sciences, and Technology at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff.
In addition to her studies, Jessica has held part-time jobs, such as being a teacher assistant for a Microbiology course at NAU, “That is a course that is taught only in the spring by Dr. Adams, and there’s about eight TA’s and we each have up to about 80 students. Besides grading, we assist students in completing in-class worksheets – as far as making sure that they understand the concepts, and just guiding them into the correct answer.”
Jessica is also a member of an association focused on speech pathology, “It’s the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association, and we help out in the community by fundraising. We try to help out in any way possible, and also donating to charities, and things like that.”
Meanwhile, Jessica is among the many students who have earned a scholarship from College Success Arizona, which provides up to six-thousand dollars per year for educational expenses, “It helps with my meal plans, my housing expenses, my books, and basically anything that isn’t covered under the NAU grant.”
The scholarship also provides the students with specialized mentoring services administered by Success Advisers. Jessica says her Success Adviser, Robert Davis, helps in several ways, “Robert comes up twice a semester to see how we’re doing and to ensure that we’re on-track with our degrees. He’s basically there for me both academically and emotionally, and he helps us with setting goals for our personal lives and academically too – and this helps me to push myself even further.”
Jessica adds that her parents have always encouraged her to get a good education, “My parents both have hard jobs and they say that education is the key to get a good job in life and they’ve always wanted it to be better for their children than they have it. They’re always there to support me and my brother, because we’re both up here at NAU.”
Jessica has some advice for middle and high school students considering college:
“My advice to them is to get involved in programs in high school that can help them apply for scholarships, and apply to colleges. I would recommend doing something like that, because that exposes you to what’s out there, and making sure things are done correctly, and you can get financial aid. I would also recommend speaking to advisers, getting connected to professors, and maybe joining an association related to your course of study.”