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UC celebrates first Master of Speech Pathology graduates as ceremonies return

Katarina Slavich

20 April 2021: The University of Canberra will officially celebrate the first cohort of Master of Speech Pathology students, who all secured employment at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, as graduation ceremonies return from today.

Speech pathologists have expertise in the assessment and treatment of communication and swallowing difficulties. They help children and adults to communicate effectively so that they can participate in school and work, and in their families and communities.

The Master’s degree was first launched in 2018 and gives students the knowledge and credentials to lead, work, educate, guide and influence change in policies and procedural activities in hospitals, rehabilitation centres, aged care facilities, community health clinics, schools, disability organisations, and private practices.

This course allows students who live in Canberra and surrounding regional and rural areas, to study speech pathology closer to home. Previously, they were required to make the move to bigger cities to undertake the course. This proximity further increases the possibility that students will practise speech pathology where they live, and help address shortages of speech pathology services in regional areas.

Executive Dean of the Faculty of Health Professor Michelle Lincoln, said it was exciting to be able to formally recognise the first graduating cohort after their graduation ceremony was cancelled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“With the graduation of our first group of students from the Masters of Speech Pathology, we are making an important contribution to the ACT and regional NSW speech pathology workforce,” said Professor Lincoln.

“During the pandemic, speech pathology has been identified as one of the most in demand and resilient health professions, and we are proud to be able to offer students the opportunity to gain skills in this field.”

Graduate Michelle Sofo was among the first cohort of students to study the degree, but will graduate this year after completing the course part-time.

“It is a gift to enjoy the work we do, and it’s an amazing feeling to go into a family’s home and work with them to improve their quality of life, not just for the child but for the whole family,” she said. Ms Sofo praised the University for being so accommodating while she was studying.

“I was able to structure my degree to complete all of my theoretical units across the first two years of my degree, and use my third year to complete my three placements,” said Ms Sofo.

“The encouragement and emotional support that I received really got me across the line.

“I would also like to thank Discipline Lead Dr Helen Southwood, who was so influential throughout my degree.

“She took the whole program to a whole new level of professionalism and I think under her leadership, all of the students have been equipped with amazing skills we can take out to the profession.”

The University is excited to be able to give graduating students in both 2020 and 2021 the opportunity to walk across the stage and receive their certificates in person after last year’s formal graduation ceremonies were cancelled due to COVID-19.

Just over 1,500 students will formally transition from students to alumni in 12 ceremonies to be held from 20-23 April at the National Convention Centre Canberra.

“Graduations are the culmination of every student’s success,” said Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Paddy Nixon. “This round of graduations is momentous, as we also celebrate the resilience of a cohort who overcame a disrupted final year of study and achieved success.

“A distinctive student experience starts with a dream for the future, a tenure of study, a celebration of academic success, and continues into a lifetime connection.”

In keeping with COVID-safe measures, these graduation ceremonies will follow strict protocols in keeping with ACT Health requirements.

University of Canberra 2021 Graduation Ceremonies

Tuesday 20 April 10am – Faculty of Science and Technology

  • Academic Program Area – Science

2.30pm – Faculty of Science and Technology

  • Academic Program Area – Technology

6pm – Faculty of Education

  • Postgraduate

Wednesday 21 April 10am – Faculty of Health

  • Discipline of Diagnostic Pathology
  • Discipline of Medical Radiation
  • Discipline of Speech Pathology
  • Discipline of Midwifery
  • Discipline of Nursing
  • Discipline of Pharmacy

2.30pm – Faculty of Health

  • Discipline of Psychology
  • Discipline of Public Health
  • Discipline of Counselling
  • Discipline of Nutrition and Dietetics

6pm – Faculty of Health

  • Discipline of Sport and Exercise Science
  • Discipline of Physiotherapy
  • Discipline of Occupational Therapy

Thursday 22 April
10am – Faculty of Business, Government and Law

  • School of Politics, Economics and Society
  • School of Law and Justice
  • Institute for Governance Policy Analysis

2.30pm – Faculty of Business, Government and Law

  • Canberra Business School

6pm – Faculty of Business, Government and Law

  • Canberra Business School

Friday 23 April
10am – Faculty of Arts and Design

  • Discipline of Design and the Built Environment

2.30pm – Faculty of Arts and Design

  • Discipline of Arts and Communication

6pm – Faculty of Education

  • Undergraduate

Photo by David Beech.