My name is Aleisha Hawley I am from a country town called Bunbury in Southwest Western Australia and I am currently 23 years old. When I was around 10 my father began having speech difficulties and he was later diagnosed with a rare neurodegenerative condition (Corticobasal Ganglionic Degeneration). I had almost finished my first-semester studying neuroscience and the University of Western Australia when he passed away following a long 10 year battle with the disease. Throughout the course of his illness, he always had fantastic help from speech pathologist's who focused on maintaining his quality of life through feeding and communication aids.
The most valuable lesson I learnt from such a heartbreaking situation is you can never take communication for granted. It truly does form the basis of every single thing we as humans do. Following a two year break after completing my undergraduate where I pondered what I wanted to do with my life I re-ignited my passion for the importance of communication and began to volunteer at Autism West.
Each week was a different theme where the kids that came would come and develop their social skills in an environment where they were encouraged to communicate with one another. I then knew for certain I wanted to go on and become a Speech Pathologist. Now having completed my first year of the two-year masters degree I am so grateful my experiences have led me down this amazing path. From the few placement experiences I have had so far I have already felt so much fulfilment, worth and gratitude. The depth and versatility of speech pathology still blows my mind and I cannot wait to finish my final year and begin exploring exactly what field will fit me best.
My mind rests easy though knowing that no matter where I end up I will certainly be making a difference and having an impact on the people I see and the work I do. I already find my knowledge helping me and making me a better and more empathetic person in everyday situations such as when I speak to the elderly, young children or people with speech or intellectual disorders. I am eager to see what the future holds and to keep spreading the message that 'communication really is key'.