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Student story

Naomi Siva

20 July 2023

"I have an ambition to change and impact the lives of many people around me…"


Studying towards a Bachelor of Speech and Language Pathology with Honours

Originally from Malaysia, Naomi was motivated to pursue the Bachelor of Speech and Language Pathology given her passion for people. 

"I spend a lot of my time outside of my studies engaging with others," she says. 

"Back in Malaysia, I volunteered as a teacher aid in one of the not-for-profit pre-schools that were set up to allow impoverished rural children access to quality preschool education in Sarawak, Malaysia.  

"After completing a pre-university course, I received a scholarship from the University of Canterbury in 2016, and later on a few more financial awards in 2017. Since my door of opportunity was open, my family and I decided that it would be a no-brainer for me to pursue this degree. 

"I chose UC for the study of Speech and Language Pathology since UC is known worldwide to provide quality education and support for its students to ensure that we graduate as therapists with not only theoretical knowledge but plenty of valuable hands-on experience.

"UC cares about its students and offers great support, be it academic assistance, emotional, mental and physical healthcare, and consistently makes its students aware of these support services through free events, providing free lunches, hugs, and banter." 

Alongside attending lectures, Naomi has completed multiple work placements as a part of her degree. 

"So far, I have experienced working with adults with intellectual disabilities who use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices to communicate, and have also had the opportunity to meet and build rapport with adults with aphasia. I have also worked with adult stroke patients at the Christchurch hospital who had swallowing problems. Last year I engaged with primary and pre-school children through observations at a primary school and a pre-school.

"Currently I am at the Vera Hayward Child Development Centre in Dunedin working with children under the age of 5 with communication and feeding," she says. 

"All these experiences were very valuable and are definitely recommended for any speech therapy student. They taught me how to make sure that a person is swallowing safely and communicating their needs. It wasn't about their articulation or grammar in some of these placements, it was just about getting their message across the best way possible." 

 Outside the walls of the lecture room, Naomi says her people skills have been deepened through her active participation in clubs and volunteer activities. 

"I was the president of an international student club called Operation Friendship. At this club we collaborate with Kiwi families to welcome international students to New Zealand and help them overcome homesickness and get accustomed to a new country and its cultures through free weekly games and movie nights, and monthly dinners with the families.  

"I learnt to work with people from multiple nationalities, backgrounds, life stories, and interests. It was an amazing experience. In fact, besides my own classmates, most of my university friends that I have met were from this club. 

"To familiarise myself with the community outside of UC I volunteered as a translator (English to Mandarin) for a patient at the Laura Fergusson Trust centre undergoing physiotherapy. I also volunteered with my clinical supervisor to help the adults in the Aphasia group and Dementia Canterbury group at the Court Theatre here in Christchurch," she says. 

"Besides volunteer jobs, I also worked as a Health Care Assistant to care for the elderly at Rannerdale Veterans Care and as a caregiver for twin boys who were born premature and at risk of a language delay."

When she is not busy engaging in humanitarian deeds, Naomi enjoys the unique scenic environment Christchurch has to offer. 

"I like spending time with friends and loved ones over food adventures such as going to the Saturday market to taste unique fresh foods. I often go up to the Port hills to do short day walks, the longest walk I've done so far is the Bealey Spur track during winter!" 

As for her future plans, she intends to work full-time in the health sector and headway patient developments within the industry. 

"I have an ambition to change and impact the lives of many people around me. One of the best ways I can think of doing so is to help them have and maintain a voice," she says. 

"As a single individual, I can't change the world, but if I can change one person's world in the smallest way possible, I will do it. Another dream of mine is that I would be able to continually source for funding to prevent people from missing out on treatment just because they cannot afford it. 

"However, before I can achieve these dreams and ambitions, I need to equip myself with the skills, experiences, and connections necessary for me to create change. Therefore, here I am, ready to take on the challenges and exciting adventures that await me on this BSLP journey!"

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