2000 English and Applied Social Studies

How did you get to where you are now?

After graduating from Keele in 2000, I had a year out working as a Health Care Assistant and Learning Support Assistant to gain some real-life experience.  I then went to Sheffield University for two years to train as a Speech and Language Therapist and gained a MMedSci in Clinical Communication Studies.  I have worked as a Speech and Language Therapist in Mansfield and Leicestershire, helping children with a whole range of communication difficulties.  I did not go back to this job after my maternity leave for my second daughter, choosing a more family-flexible job!  I am now a TinyTalk Teacher which involves delivering baby signing classes to babies from newborn - 2 years and their parents.  It is part of an International Franchise that I think is fantastic because it not only offers excellent support for women entrepreneurs as class teachers, but baby signing also has enormous benefits for children’s’ communication development.  I take my baby to work with me and have fun!  I have also recently set up as an Independent Speech and Language Therapist and have designed my own website.

What has been your biggest achievement so far?

I am proud of completing my Masters.  It was a tough two years and my social life was non-existent!  There was a lot to learn since undergraduates usually take the same course over 4 years.  My degree and my year out helped me a lot in terms of my knowledge of social and health issues.

And your biggest mistake?

I regret not having the opportunity to travel and work abroad before having children.  I have often thought that I would like to work on a community project in a developing country.  My husband and I now plan to see the World once Matilda (4) and Ivy (18 months) have flown the nest!

What are your ambitions now?

I want to see my children grow up to be happy and successful.  I would like to continue learning British Sign Language and perhaps work as a translator in the future.  I will develop my TinyTalk and SpeechBubbleTherapy businesses so that they grow and I will continue to spread the baby signing message!

What advice would you give to someone wanting to work in a similar field?

My passion for sign language all stems from a class I did at an evening class during my 2nd year of Keele at Newcastle Under-Lyme College!  I completed British Sign Language Level 1 with a friend that I had lived next door to in Horwood Hall in my first year!  I’d definitely recommend this for a greater awareness of the Deaf Community and to meet new people.  Ten years on I have just started my level 2.  Previously, I could never seem to find the time, but my fantastic husband bought it for my 30th birthday present! Anyone wanting to work in Speech and Language Therapy could consider the Masters route if they already have a degree, there are 5 or 6 Universities to my knowledge that run the Masters.  Be warned though, it is intensive!  Speech and Language Therapy is really interesting and broad, so you can specialise in a particular area or have a really varied job.  The drawbacks, for me, are that there are too few therapists funded by the NHS, so we are spread very thinly, making job satisfaction low.  It is also relatively low paid considering the amount of training you have to undergo.  TinyTalk is a great career option if you have a family.  It was founded by a Mum entrepreneur who knows what it is like to want a good work/ home life balance.  The principles of TinyTalk follow the same ones that I would follow as a Speech and Language Therapist and the classes are full of sound language advice.  My own children have really benefitted from using signs from an early age and could communicate with me in sign months before their speech muscles had matured enough for talking.  My advice would be to sign with your own children, find a class if possible, and once you’ve seen the benefits first hand you can consider becoming a TinyTalk baby signing Teacher.

What made you choose Keele University?

I chose Keele mainly because it allowed me to combine two subjects with equal weight.  Like many 18 year olds I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my career, so I didn’t want a degree that was too specific.  I visited 5 or 6 Universities with my Dad, and Keele was my first choice.  I also liked the campus style of University as it felt like you were part of a community, and Keele offered two years accommodation on campus, as opposed to the one year that most others offered.

How has Keele influenced your life?

Going to University really helps you to find your own identity and learn valuable life-skills (it’s a cliché, but it’s true)!  I’ll always think fondly of my time at Keele, from the breeze-block ‘Z’ sheds to the grand Keele Hall, it’s a great University.

What is your favourite memory of Keele?

Chips and Cheese after a night in the Union. Drinking red wine with my future husband in the gardens of Keele Hall on my 21st birthday having finished my exams! Smoked Cheese and Red Onion Panini in the swanky new eating area that opened in my final year. Shalimar curries and Vodka Revolution in Newcastle. Popping to the Union shop for a bar of Fry’s peppermint cream before lectures. Learning how to email  Vodka Lime and Lemonade for a ridiculously cheap amount! Actually most of my favourite memories are food and drink related!

And your worst?

Finding mini spider nests all around the window in my room in Lindsay Hall.  I hope they have new windows that shut properly by now!  And thank you so much Nicki Taylor for being brave enough to remove them for me!!!

Anything else you would like to add?

I hope that all the people I have lost touch with are enjoying life and also have happy memories of Keele University (and a life-long love for Robbie Williams!)