Sarah Wei Ling Hiew
'There is a serious focus on skill development for lifelong learning and clinical practice...'
Originally from Singapore, Sarah always knew that she wanted to have a career in the healthcare industry.
‘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 was directly working with clients and knowing that she can make ‘a tangible difference in the lives of future clients’.
Throughout the degree, Sarah completed practical clinical work alongside lectures. These experiences 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. You gradually get more clinical workload and independence over the years, and less lecture time,’ she says. ‘It’s not always about assessing and treating people though. We do a lot of education, in that we teach clients (or their family or people that work with/around them) about different conditions and what they can do to help.
‘It has been an amazing experience. My study has definitely provided me with the knowledge and learning skills that I need to keep improving my clinical skills. I think the key thing about the degree is that they recognise that you can’t learn everything there is during the study, especially since research is continuous and we keep learning new things every day. So there is a serious focus on skill development for lifelong learning and clinical practice so that we can keep learning and adapting even after graduation.
‘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 as a child, 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. That really sealed the deal for me.
‘Everyone is really friendly and approachable, including lecturers and service staff,’ she says. ‘I really like the new buildings and facilities that opened up (tragically in my final year). In my time at UC, I would say my favourite café would definitely be the Mix Café in the Law building. Absolutely love the selection they have there!’
During her time at UC, Sarah also took on the role of a Student Mentor as she saw it as a great way to support other new students through life at UC.
‘Mentoring has provided me with lots of opportunities to meet new people and take part in different University programmes like International Enrolment, Orientation and Academic Skills Centre programmes.’
During the summer of her final year Sarah also took part in a UC Summer Research Programme, investigating the methodology of cough reflex testing, at the UC Rose Centre for Stroke Recovery and Research.
‘It was an extremely exciting opportunity and I was given the chance to not only complete my own research project, but also to dabble in some of the other projects that were being conducted by PhD students at the Centre. This allowed me to get a better understanding of different kinds of research.
‘It really exposed me to other aspects of my field of study that I normally wouldn’t be, and I was also able to meet and learn from heaps of people from our line of work.’
As for her future plans, Sarah hopes to start strong in her speech-language therapy career with more clinical experience, and plans to eventually return to research to continue developing her knowledge in the field.