Sarah Wei Ling Hiew

'Everyone works really hard and it’s a great motivator...'

  • Sarah Hiew

Studying towards a Bachelor of Speech and Language Pathology with Honours

Originally from Singapore, Sarah always knew that she wanted to have a career in the healthcare industry, but didn’t like the thought of dealing with wounds and blood.

‘I have met some people with speech problems previously and that eventually sparked my interest in Speech Therapy,’ she says. ‘After some research on my part, I decided to pursue this degree. The things we learnt in the first year really captured my interest and I’ve stuck on ever since!’

Communication Disorders was a great compromise for helping others without becoming a nurse or doctor. Sarah’s favourite part about the degree is directly working with clients and knowing that she can make ‘a tangible difference in the lives of future clients’.

‘Also since my degree is a really specific one, most of the people in my course are really here because they want to be. Everyone works really hard and it’s a great motivator since the atmosphere is really supportive for studying,’ she says.

Currently in her second year – the First Professional Year – Sarah has started doing practical clinical work alongside lectures. The experience has allowed her to work with actual patients and learn how to communicate information to clients.

‘It’s a really fulfilling course if you really put in the effort. My advice is to read up about speech therapy and apply for jobs shadowing in hospitals or other healthcare facilities. It’s a great way to give yourself an introduction to what we do!’

Having been to New Zealand once previously, Sarah was always keen on coming back one day. With most of her fellow students from Singapore choosing to go to the US or UK for university study, she decided on UC for more of a challenging experience.

‘I wanted to have a higher chance of meeting and getting to know people from other cultures and backgrounds so I chose to avoid the countries where most Singaporean students tend to gather.

‘UC really stood out to me as a choice not only because it was one of the few universities that offered my degree; I had spoken to a representative from UC and she was warm, friendly and really helpful. I really buy good service and my further correspondence with other service staff in UC sealed the deal for me.’

Along with UC’s staff, Sarah also loves ‘just about everything’ that UC has to offer.

‘I really love the environment – both the physical environment and the intangible atmosphere. The campus is really beautiful, especially so in spring when all the cherry blossoms start to bloom. Everyone is really friendly and approachable, including lecturers and service staff,’ she says.

Her particular favourite aspect of UC is the student community. Sarah stays in Sonoda Campus hall of residence, which has given her the opportunity to get more involved with life on campus. She was awarded the Helen Macmillan Brown Bursary scholarship to cover her accommodation costs.

‘It’s a really awesome place to live especially if you have great flatmates. Our resident life officers are the best and often come up with lots of events for us to meet other residents or just chill in general. They make study week so much better because of all the free food events since they know some of us don’t have time to cook! This year they brought in dogs for us to pet. Enough said.’

She has also recently become a Student Mentor, and has joined the Singapore Merlion Club, the Canterbury Malaysian Student Association, and the Student Volunteer Army (SVA), which has involved some community volunteer weekend events.

‘The most memorable field trip I have participated in was the SVA Camp. We car pooled up to Marlborough Sounds and helped the locals there with paving the Link Pathway – a 5km linking several bays and coves – making travel across the sounds safer for everyone. We even had time to stop by a few places along the way back – Kaikōura included. I definitely recommend that!’

As for her future plans, Sarah hopes to stay in New Zealand for a few more years after she graduates, but would also like to take her degree further overseas one day.

‘I’m hoping that I’ll have the opportunity to travel to different places to work and experience the differences in work cultures in other countries. I’ve actually considered working in Japan before but I’m going to have to brush up on my Japanese first before that happens!’

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