Next in our Life After HSC Series, Steph Azzopardi! She is studying Speech Pathology after transferring from a Medical Science degree!life after hsc: speech pathology

1. What degree/course are you studying? How long have you been studying? Full time/part time?

I am currently in my first year of a Bachelor of Applied Science (Speech Pathology), although I have been at University full time for two years. I started University last year when I began a Bachelor of Medical Science, but I decided to change degrees.

2. What University/Institution are you studying at and why did you choose them?

I am studying at the University of Sydney. I think it’s always been my dream to study at USYD since Year 7. Some of my family members are USYD alumni and I guess was familiar with the Uni from a young age. As soon as I arrived at the (stunning) Quadrangle on the USYD Open Day, the Carillon was playing “Hedwig’s Theme”. As a massive HP fan, I felt at home straight away. More realistically, I chose to study Speech Pathology at USYD because of the amazing facilities on offer and the research being conducted in our Research Centre to further my growing field.

3. How many years will you study for?

My Speech Path degree is 4 years. In total I will be at Uni for 5 years, taking in to account my first year of Medical Science.

4. What has been your favourite part of the course so far?

Meeting new friends. I have met so many lovely, like-minded people this year and last. It’s so good to bounce ideas off each other and to give each other support. Especially through those 65% weighing biology exams.

5. What has been your greatest challenge?

Changing degrees. I really am not one for change. When I decided that Medical Science and Medicine was just not for me, I had to think of an alternative. I hate the feeling of not knowing where I’m heading. I always have to have a goal in mind, so I’m very grateful that I found Speech Pathology.

6. Did the course meet your expectations? Were there any surprises?

Going into my first year of Medical Science, I really had no idea how ‘sciencey’ my course was going to be. It was intense. 5 subjects, including lots of advanced chemistry and math was very overwhelming to a first year like me.

Going into Speech this year, I had done my research on every subject that I would be undertaking so I felt like I knew everything I would be learning before I even started Uni. Being a Bio enthusiast, I was surprised how much I loved the Linguistics side of my course.

7. What is the most interesting thing you’ve covered/learnt so far?

I honestly think my whole course is fascinating so I would be lying if I said one thing was interesting about my course. Learning about swallowing and speech production has been particularly interesting. I think it’s fascinating the way our body works to do basic biological functions, and it’s awesome that Speechies can help people in so many different ways, and not just restricted to popular belief that we only treat people who stutter.

8. Do you have a clear career path or job position in mind? Do you think your degree will equip you with the skills and knowledge to pursue this?

My degree is purely designed to equip me with the skills to graduate as a qualified Speech Pathologist. I would love to work as a Paediatric Speech Pathologist simply because I am a strong believer in early intervention and starting therapy from a young age.

9. Have you or will you complete any work experience? Does your institution encourage this? 

This year I have begun volunteering at The Shepherd Centre, which is a non-for-profit organisation working with deaf children who are learning to speak. Being involved with the development of Speech and Hearing programs and conducting Auditory Verbal Therapy on children during supervision sessions has been amazing. I don’t actually begin clinical placement until my second year so it has been amazing to gain some hands-on experience with The Shepherd Centre. I highly encourage finding work experience while you study, simply because the skills you learn are invaluable and are highly sought after by employers!

10. Describe “A day in the life of a USYD Speech Pathology Student!”

I get up at around 7am to catch the 7:30 Western line train. Change at Strathfield to Lidcombe and then a bus from Lidcombe to the USYD Cumberland ‘Health Sciences’ Campus. I get into my 2 hour Monday morning lecture wishing it was the weekend already (aren’t Monday’s a drag?). After the lecture, a 1 hour lunch break for my friends and I means one hour to catch up on our exciting or non-exciting weekend adventures. Or we amuse ourselves in the lunchroom by applying outrageous Snapchat filters to each other. Then it’s time for our afternoon practicals! The agenda for the prac could be any where between respectfully observing cadavers’ to discussing the function and importance of velopharyngeal closure in speech production and swallowing. After pracs, it is home time!

I really don’t get much productive study done during the day at Uni so I’m much more productive at home. Revising the material I had learnt that day is something I try to do often, because first-year Psychology told me that information retention is greater when you revise your lectures immediately after the actual lecture. After revision, I work on assessment tasks or complete some weekly online quizzes. I always make sure that I have some time to wind down or do something I enjoy in the night, like going to the gym or visiting family. I make sure I’m in bed by at least 10:30pm so I’m refreshed and ready to tackle my next day of University!

Stay tuned for the next in our Life After HSC  Series! If you want to talk more about uni courses or anything about your next steps, feel free to come chat in our NSW Education Discussion Thread!