Studying for a degree in Speech and Language Therapy (SALT) has made Dinithi O'Gorman the happiest she's ever been.
The 32-year-old has been interested in language and communication since high school but didn't know how to turn this passion into a career - until joining De Montfort University Leicester (DMU).
Now in her final year, Dinithi has valued placement experiences such as helping people with brain injuries and empowering trans and gender diverse clients.
She is looking forward to working as a rehabilitation support assistant until her registration is approved [in March 2019] and she can start working officially as a qualified Speech and Language Therapist.
Dinithi said: "It's been absolutely everything I could have ever wanted in a degree and I don't think I've been happier.
"All the experiences I have had have been amazing and I'm looking forward to starting my first job as a Speech and Language Therapist."
Raised in Canada, Dinithi chose anthropology for her first degree in her home country followed by an MA at the University of Kent in the UK, where she met her future husband. She then returned home and landed a graduate job with a major Canadian bank. During this time she undertook SALT volunteer opportunities at her local hospital and a kindergarten.
Settling in Oakham, Rutland in the UK after getting married in 2012, Dinithi started looking at how to get into SALT.
Students give a voice to people with swallowing difficulties
Book your place at an Open Day to find out more about Speech and Language Therapy
Students' support for people with communication difficulties
"I came to a DMU Open Day in 2014 and talked about my experiences and was told I sounded like an excellent candidate," she said.
"My husband has been incredibly supportive of me giving up a full-time job in local government and coming back to study."
The course has lived up to expectations, with "great" support from lecturers. Highlights include her placement at the Brain Injury Services Burton Park, Leicestershire, where she will start work later this month.
"It's about being able to increase quality of life by finding those residual functional skills, so people can be as independent as possible or live the best life with support," she said.
"On placement I had my own caseload, which was very complex and challenging. Being part of the team and actively working helped me improve my clinical skills and my patients' day-to-day lives.
"If you don't have a means to communicate or advocates to help you, how can you engage in life to your fullest potential?"
Another highlight is Dinithi's work at The Nottingham Gender Identity Clinic, which links with her final year dissertation.
"I asked [an SLT] if I could come and observe and, as of September, I've been involved in voice therapy groups for trans women. It's good experience being able to support patients and help them achieve comfort with their authentic selves."
Dinithi volunteering in Brussels
Dinithi has further broadened her knowledge on two #DMUglobal trips - an academic experience in The Gambia and the #JoinTogether programme in Brussels and Berlin to support refugees.
"In The Gambia, we learnt that interaction with children manifests in different ways. This led to greater understanding of different cultural values," said Dinithi. "The #JoinTogether trip was quite eye-opening, especially the treatment of refugees. I was shocked to witness refugees being cleared out of their temporary campsite in Brussels."
Back on campus, student and brand ambassador Dinithi loves the atmosphere.
"I've gone from being at university in Canada, where it was extremely competitive, to here at DMU, where values are different - fostering practical skills and relevant employment experiences that enhance your future employability," she added.
"It's an added bonus that everyone is lovely. I'm very proud to be part of the SALT programme and really love my year group."
Posted on Monday 28th January 2019