Meghan Ruelas ’07 MS, CCC-SLP, a Hattiesburg, Mississippi native, graduated high school without any knowledge of speech-language pathology. However, she found herself working at the DuBard School for Language Disorders in her first year of college and discovered her passion for the field.
Recognizing the need for Spanish-speaking therapy providers, Ruelas pursued a Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology degree with an emphasis in bilingual speech-language pathology at the TCU Davies School of Communication Sciences & Disorders. After earning her graduate degree, she spent a year in Houston before realizing her heart was in Fort Worth. In 2008, she returned to the area, practicing in outpatient pediatric rehabilitation. before co-founding with her husband, Kenneth.
“When I began my graduate studies in 2005, TCU was one of very few graduate programs in the country that offered an emphasis in bilingual speech-language therapy,” explains Meghan. “TCU provided me the opportunity to become a bilingual speech-language pathologist and pursue my passion of helping children communicate, and I’ll be forever grateful for the academic preparation and mentorship I received here.”
A Perfect Pair
Kenneth Ruelas ’07 (’22 MBA), a Fort Worth native, initially aimed for medical school but discovered his passion for speech-language pathology during a rotation in a trauma ward. As a Community Scholar at TCU and a walk-on with the TCU football team, he pursued the communication sciences and disorders major. In 2007, he met Meghan, and after briefly exploring the music industry, he found fulfillment as a speech-language pathology assistant in Fort Worth.
The couple married in 2010, In 2012, they felt called to establish their pediatric rehabilitation company, Anchor Pediatric Therapy (Anchor). In 2020, amidst the pandemic, Kenneth pursued and completed an Executive MBA at TCU, providing valuable skills for Anchor’s growth as its CEO.
“I realized early on that I felt limited in most of my duties as a therapy provider, and most interactions in this setting seemed transactional at best,” explained Kenneth. “Once I learned how the industry worked, from getting referrals to the logistics of business growth and the retention of great people, I felt a calling to start Anchor Pediatric Therapy and help steward the development of other leaders in the industry.”
Anchored in Love
Anchor started as a mom-and-pop operation, facing challenges and setbacks but overcoming them with determination and prayer. The I-35 construction project led to relocation to a more suitable space, marking the beginning of their journey to bring something unique to the speech therapy industry.
“As with anything ambiguous, you’re always going to run into the unknown,” said Kenneth. “I love how I’ve been able to harness learning from my struggles. Failure is an opportunity not only to learn and grow but to be an example to others to show them how to run the race and help them learn from my mistakes.”
Their vision focused on providing bilingual therapy for English- and Spanish-speaking children. Over the years, they expanded services to include occupational therapy and feeding therapy to address the complex needs of their patients.
“We aim to provide a certain level of compassion that seemed to be lacking in other settings,” said Kenneth. “We want to make the therapy experience less transactional and more relational.”
The couple unintentionally built a culture centered on leadership development for their staff, which became crucial during the COVID-19 pandemic. Their faith in God and the culture they created served as an anchor, allowing them not only to survive but thrive during the challenging times.
“We learned what really made us thrive as individuals, as a team and as leaders.”
Getting to the Heart of What Matters
Now comprised of over 30 employees and two clinic locations, Anchor’s values are compassion, stewardship and hope, shaping what they call “The Anchor Experience.”
“Our dream is to revolutionize health care,” said Kenneth.
To aspiring entrepreneurs in the health care industry, Kenneth encourages them to “Be intentional, and make sure your intent is founded in a clear goal based on why you are doing what you’re doing. Find your purpose and pursue it with an attitude of grace.”
Meghan says to, “Learn the art of time management. This has been a long and ongoing process for me during my leadership journey, but I’ve realized it’s such a key to preventing burnout and also stewarding my team members’ time well. Even if you don’t get it right every time, keep growing.”
Wanting to be in five locations within the next 12 months, the Ruelases continue to grow and expand, impacting the lives of children, families and therapy service providers.