Rhode Dena, SLP-A

Rhode Dena speech therapist

SLP-A (speech-language pathology assistant)

Rhode Georgette Dena has been a speech-language pathology assistant at FOCUS Therapy since 2022.

After earning her bachelor’s degree at the University of South Florida Tampa in 2021 in communication sciences and disorders – language, speech, & hearing, Dena completed most of her clinical training online, thanks to the global pandemic. Joining the speech therapy team at FOCUS in Fort Myers was her first opportunity working with clients in-person one-on-one.

“I worked at a skilled nursing facility for over three years, and encountered people with a broad range of disabilities, injuries, and mobility issues. It was there I started to realize just how much communication difficulty impacts a person as well,” she explained. “That’s what really sparked my desire to explore this field. I saw how frustrated people were when they couldn’t be understood. It was so hard to watch them repeat themselves over and over with the same results. I started to research it. That’s how I discovered speech therapy – and I instantly fell in love with the field and haven’t looked back since.”

Initially, she didn’t picture herself working with children. Her time at FOCUS Therapy shifted her goals.

“I always imagined I’d work with the senior population, but I’m so happy I get to experience working with children,” she said. “They are high energy, positive energy – and it’s so rewarding to see them grow up before your eyes.”

A speaker of both English and Haitian Creole, Dena is a New York native who moved to South Florida with her family as a young child.

In her spare time, she loves shopping – specifically, bargain hunting for therapy materials.

“My mind is always working on ways to conduct therapy sessions,” Dena said. “I’ll go charity shops and look around. I’ll buy some items specially for certain kids I know will enjoy them. My family knows about my shopping problem, but my co-workers… They’ll find out when they can no longer find me because I’m under a pile of toys. I mean therapy materials.”