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Student story

Paige Thomas

20 July 2023

"I enjoy that I have the chance to help a person improve their quality of life..."


Master of Speech and Language Pathology

Studying towards a PhD in Speech and Language Sciences

With a love for the sciences, but not knowing which area she wanted a career in, Paige studied a Bachelor of Science at University of Auckland in a broad range of subjects before settling on Psychology and Statistics. It was through this major that she would eventually find her true calling.

"One of the papers that I could take was about the psychology of speech and language disorders. This was my first look into Speech and Language Therapy. I found it very interesting and thought that within this area there would be a lot that I could do to help people," she says.

When it came to choosing postgraduate study, Paige found out about UC's Master of Speech and Language Pathology (MSLP) and endeavoured to travel down to Christchurch.

"I had heard great things from friends who studied Speech and Language Therapy at UC about the quality of the course and teaching staff," she says. "Getting to know Christchurch has been an awesome experience, going for walks and looking at the sights as Christchurch changes. I have been able to make a lot of lifetime friends with very similar interests throughout my time at UC and this is something that I will always cherish."

The MSLP gave her the passion she needed to decide on a career in Communication Disorders, as well as a great experience being among the first tight-knit group of graduates in the programme.

"The knowledge and life skills that you get out of a degree like that are so valuable. The academic staff members are all incredible, with the small class size you are able to build more of a relationship and get to know members of the staff and I found them all to be very approachable and helpful."

After completing her master's, Paige was divided with either looking for work or continuing on to doctoral study with UC. She ended up taking on a summer research studentship with the Rose Centre for Stroke Recovery and Research to help her decide.

"This showed me how much I loved research and being at the Rose Centre ultimately made up my mind. I would definitely recommend a summer studentship to anyone considering further research in any field to get a small taste of what it might be like."

The Rose Centre was a huge incentive to starting a PhD, due to the staff and student community that work together on research projects and treating clients.

"The companionship and support within the lab is amazing," she says. "Students come from all over the world to work in our lab at the Rose Centre for Stroke Research and Recovery and I was lucky enough to not have to travel far to be a part of a great thing."

Paige's thesis examines treatment for swallowing disorders that affect people's ability to eat and drink, and whom often miss out on day-to-day social situations as a result. She has received a UC Doctoral Scholarship to help fund her studies.

"Swallowing is a very important part of life, not only in order to eat and get nutrition but also for quality of life. I enjoy that I have the chance to help a person improve their quality of life by providing swallowing therapy."

"I love working with people and seeing the looks on their faces when something progresses or improves. I have seen a man drink water for the first time in years, a boy eat his first meal and multiple people gain peace of mind from passing various assessments. In doing research I get the opportunity to be the first person to see and know things."

As such, Paige's goal is to have a future career centred on supporting recovery for those in need.

"I am very passionate about both research and working with patients so an ideal career would be the opportunity to combine both of these aspects of speech and language therapy," she says. "I would love to do my part in helping to find a way of optimising treatment to help patients recover more efficiently."

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