Join the UD community in honoring Sonia Kirkpatrick at the Distinguished Alumni Award Dinner on Saturday, Oct. 5. Tickets are available now.
2013 Distinguished Alumna Sonia Kirkpatrick's idea for a collaborative autism care center for children—now PediaPlex, a flourishing clinic in Southlake—took shape while she was preparing for a business plan competition as a UD master's of business administration student.
After rushing from neuropsychologist to occupational therapist to counselor after her oldest daughter's diagnosis with Asperger's syndrome, now-PediaPlex CEO Kirkpatrick MBA '11 had seen firsthand the shortcomings of existing autism care.
Her business plan for the collaborative care center took third and earned her a Texas Business Hall of Fame scholarship. That's when things started happening.
"All of the judges started sharing stories with me about family members dealing with the same thing," said Kirkpatrick. "Not only did they encourage me – the scholarship led to investors for my company."
Kirkpatrick credits College of Business faculty with teaching her to think strategically about her plan for the clinic.
"If I had not gone to graduate school at UD, I don't know whether I would have taken the leap of faith to start PediaPlex," said Kirkpatrick.
PediaPlex opened in January 2012 and already receives about 1,000 visits monthly. Looking ahead, Kirkpatrick plans to open two more clinics in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. The big picture, however, includes starting a transition center to teach life skills to autistic young adults.
Kirkpatrick's deadline for the project is personal.
"My daughter is 16 now, so my goal is to have this open in the next three years," she said.
When planning the next move for PediaPlex, Kirkpatrick turned once again to UD. A team of graduate business students is already at work on a marketing plan for the transition center as its Capstone project.