A Stutter Does Not Limit You

AHS Drama member, Alex Jernegan, discusses life as a student actor with a stutter

Alex+Jernegan+performs+as+security+guard+in+Elf%3A+The+Musical

Bill Marquardt

Alex Jernegan performs as security guard in Elf: The Musical

Alex Jernegan, Staff Writer

A stutter is nothing to be ashamed of. Rather, it is something that makes a person stand out.”

— Alex Jernegan

A stutter is nothing to be ashamed of. Rather, it is something that makes a person stand out

A stutter is talking with a continued repetition of certain sounds or words. Personally, my stutter appears when I am talking too fast or have a lot of emotion behind what I’m saying. I have had difficulties with a stutter for many years of my life.

Over the last 8 years, I have gone to multiple places for speech therapy services. I started out at Puzzle Pieces in Quincey with a speech therapist named Amanda. She taught techniques for my breathing, going slow with my speech, controlling speed, and my modulation. In the summer time, I went to a camp that also worked with decreasing my stutter. I also completed some intense speech therapy at South Shore Hospital. In school, I work with Ms. Solano, the school’s speech therapist. Since I met her in my freshmen year, she has been so helpful with fluency strategies and communication skills.

Something that might surprise people because I have a stutter is that I am also an actor and a member of the drama club at AHS.

I began doing drama for the middle school from 7th – 8th grade. I first joined because a lot of my friends were members of the club, both in cast and crew. I figured I would try it and see how it goes. Let me say, getting into drama club was the best decision I have made so far in my academic career.

Fast forward to the start of my freshman year, I immediately joined AHS Drama. Though I did not have all my same friends, which was sad at first, I made new friends and reunited with some old friends from AMS Drama. That year, I auditioned for Mamma Mia! and did not land a role. I did not let stop me from being in the club. I joined up with stage crew so I could still be in the show.

About a year later, we did a prerecorded show of Working: The Musical. It was quite the stressful and frustrating process for the cast, crew, and director. Auditions were prerecorded. I thought mine looked terrible, yet I still landed a role! The club was able to pull the show together for an incredible result in the end.

No matter what, we all accept each other in the drama club”

— Alex Jernegan

!

In autumn 2021, auditions were held for Elf: The Musical. Those auditions were better. Being able to land any role in show is sometimes surprising to me because with my nerves, I am known to stutter at auditions. Sometimes my stutter is impacted by my anxiety level. Therefore, I have had to work on relaxation techniques.

Over the last year, I worked quite diligently with Allie from South Shore Therapies. I rehearsed my drama parts and lines with her outside of rehearsal time. It made a huge difference in allowing me to speak my lines more clearly with little to no stutter. I was so surprised when I landed a speaking role for the show and my hard work paid off!

During the process for this show, I made even more friends. My experience with the drama club is that everyone accepts each other no matter what. The last five years of being in drama club I have made so many friends and learned different things about acting. Best of all, I had so many fun experiences I will never forget about. Drama can really be enjoyed by anyone. People can let loose, gain experience, make friends, and express themselves. I tend to really express myself around all my friends because, no matter what, we all accept each other in the drama club.