A natural born reader and writer, professional writer Barb Justus enjoys the ability to communicate through the written word. Thanks to a graduate degree in speech disorders from UALR, Justus is able to help struggling readers share that joy.
A one-time professional writer, she was looking for a mid-life career change in 2007. She found the job satisfaction she was seeking at UALR’s Department of Audiology and Speech Pathology. She graduated in 2009 and today is in private practice working with children with reading and receptive-expressive disorders.
“It was almost easier for me to be an older student because I have more context. I had life experience, and I was a more serious student,” Justus said. “It was stimulating in ways I have never been simulated before. When I went to college the first time, I just went to college. This time it was so much more purposeful. It was just a great experience.”
One semester, she was taking audiology coursework and clinical hours at Arkansas Children’s Hospital where a young deaf girl was having her cochlea implant tuned on for the first time.
“It was such a privilege,” Justus said. “They turned the implant on, and the mother said something. The little girl looked at her and just started beaming. She had never heard her mother’s voice before. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room.”
She credits that mix of classroom study and practical experience and the close-knit students – traditional and non-traditional – and the UALR faculty for her new professional life.
“I’ve taught before, and what I know from watching those professors, they were giving 110 percent so every single person in that department would be successful,” she said. “That was just amazing to me.”
Q&A with Barbara
What led you to UALR? Actually, it was a matter of convenience since my family lives in Little Rock, but it turned out so much better than I could ever imagined. I was totally impressed with everything the school offered, particularly the professors.
What was your favorite class? Literacy with Stacie Mahurin. It was that class that helped me narrow down my scope of practice since speech-language pathology is such a broad field. I took that class my first semester of graduate school, and there was no looking back for me! I knew what I wanted to be when I “grew up!”
What is your hands-down favorite meal? Right now, it’s bahn mi scrambled eggs from The Root Cafe. I’m not much of a meat and potatoes person. I like adventurous foods.
When I was a child, I was always … That’s easy… reading. My mother worried that I read too much, so I would sneak out the door “to play” with a book hidden under my shirt so I could curl up under a tree to read the afternoon away.
What one word would you use to describe yourself? Enthusiastic!!