“I never have to worry about what I want to do when I grow up because I’m doing it,” said Judi Jewett ’95, MA, CCC-SLP. For over two decades Jewett, president of Jewett and Associates, Inc., has worked in private practice and in schools as a speech-language pathologist. She believes, “Communication is a basic need and if you can help someone with their communication you are giving them a gift.”
She reflects on what inspired her to pursue a career in speech-language pathology (SLP). “There was a video that I absolutely fell in love with. The speech-language pathologist was teaching a hearing impaired child to speak. I thought, ‘That’s it, that’s what I want to do.’” She also found the variety of opportunities available within the profession very appealing. Jewett adds, “I have always been fascinated by all of the things you can do in SLP.”
She explains why she chose Pacific for her masters of arts in communicative disorders: “I liked the philosophy of the School.” She says that choosing Pacific was “one of the best choices I’ve made.” She adds, “I absolutely love Pacific; all of the staff, all of the faculty, all of the students. I always feel connected to Pacific even though I graduated many years ago. They have a wonderful program that I can’t recommend enough. They support each student to be the best clinician they can be.”
Jewett was a speaker at this year’s Welcome Back Dinner, an annual event where alumni and experienced speech-language pathologists serve as guest speakers for round-table discussions with current SLP students. She shares, “One thing that I like about the Welcome Back Dinner is that it takes place just before students have their first interaction with their clients.” Jewett brought with her almost 700 books which she distributed to undergraduate and graduate SLP students. The books had been donated to First Book, a non-profit social enterprise, by Random House Golden Kids. First Book receives donations of new books from publishers, which are then available to educators who work in settings where the majority of the students come from low-income families.
One of the books Jewett brought was “Monkey: Not Ready for Kindergarten” by Marc Brown. Jewett explains that in the book the monkey is doing activities such as playing with blocks and coloring. By bringing props to a speech therapy session, such as coloring books and blocks, the client can engage in the activity instead of only listening. Jewett stresses the importance of helping children form positive associations with books during the pre-literacy phase. By introducing an interactive element, the child is able to practice literacy skills, regardless of their age or skill level. Also, the speech-language pathologist can ask the child about both what the character in the book is doing and what they themselves are doing.
Jewett’s passion for sharing the gift of communication crosses linguistic and cultural boundaries. Jewett traveled to what is now Bosnia and Herzegovina shortly after the Bosnia War ended in 1995. “I first went to Bosnia as part of a church program,” Jewett said. “I went to a youth house, the schools were not up and running at this point.” She noticed that one child wasn’t engaging in the activities that were going on around her. Jewett was told, “‘She’s deaf, there’s nothing you can do.’” Jewett thought to herself, “‘I’m a speech-language pathologist, I do know there are things I can do.’” The girl could only use a few gestures, which her mother understood, but she was unable to communicate with her father who had been blinded in the war. Jewett worked tirelessly until she found hearing aids.
Finding hearing aids was only the first step. “You have to also provide therapy,” explains Jewett. “You can’t just hand them hearing aids like audiology tourism.” Jewett arranged for the girl to have speech therapy. On her return trips she observed the impact it had made on the girl’s life. She shares, “She went from gesturing to actually participating in conversations.” That initial interaction sparked the creation of the Bosnia Speech and Hearing Project. Jewett shares, “Bosnia is the place that has captured my heart. The people there are now my family. I didn’t have family when I first went, but now I do.”
She believes that it is our responsibility to reach those individuals who otherwise would not have access to the services they need. She encourages her fellow speech-language pathologists to give back of their time and talent. “There are some people outside of our settings that also need communication, that is a basic need,” Jewett said. “Find those settings where we can use our knowledge and skills.”
By Anne Marie H. Bergthold