Seven thousand, two hundred sixty-two miles I traveled as an 18-year-old international student from Kuwait to pursue a career in speech-language pathology in the United States of America. A young Arab woman from a traditional home in Kuwait, since my arrival, I have learned to celebrate diversity with great relish.
Kuwait is small and big in its values, I always utilized opportunities to help people. The desire to help others was one of the reasons that led me to choosing this major, to build a career supporting people to better their lives, especially children. From a young age, I have loved children’s existence in my life and around me. I enjoy playing, interacting, and taking care of them. I feel like the entire world is smiling when I am with them. They love me because I am playful and give them their share in the conversation to express their opinions and ideas. Because I like children and I want to help others, I wanted to become a doctor, perhaps a pediatrician, to help people heal and get better. But I did not see this field as a good field for two reasons.
From my perspective, doctors treat people until they are medically stable, and their treatment is fixed more than sustained. For example, a doctor could treat a child’s adenoids surgically, but this alone will not rehabilitate the child’s speaking abilities. I see SLP as a bridge between medical etiologies and rehabilitation services and that is what makes this field so uniquely exciting and so special.
In 1990, Kuwait was invaded by the Iraqi Army. Overnight, they invaded the entire country. They burned many oil fields and houses. It was said that the people who will be impacted are those of the future generation. Twenty-seven years later, there are more and more children and adults being diagnosed with genetic and neurological disorders such as Down Syndrome. This tragedy impacted the development of my country and thus today there are many adults and children who need SLP services. Unfortunately, however, because of the shortage of professionals that are eligible to provide these services, those adults and children do not receive adequate attention. The awareness of these services is growing as much as the need to receive services is growing. In Kuwait, people used to believe that a child/adult who stutters is born like that and that there is nothing they can do to help the child/adult. But after graduating and coming back to Kuwait and working in a rehabilitation clinic, I have seen families in and outside of the clinic taking about stuttering and how it is a condition that can be treated through rehabilitation services.
One of the best sides of this profession is it has a positive impact on the life of a person with a communication disorder. From the past and until this moment, I have the desire to change someone’s life for the better and observe the happiness and comfort results. Loving life led me to want to become a doctor at first, but I found myself better in a different role making similar impact: providing speech-language therapies where I give birth to a positive change that lighten the life of an individual to have a better quality of life.
As more people are being educated about the speech and language disorders and therapy services, more and more people are being referred to speech-language therapy clinics. In Kuwait, and because of the lack of trained and qualified speech-language professionals, eligible speech-language therapy services are limited. Working in Kuwait as a pediatric speech-language pathology assistant gave me an insight in the needs of my community. The population we serve at the clinic is so diverse. We lack standardized resources that are tested on Arabic speakers with diverse backgrounds. Because of the lack of standardized testing, no diagnoses can be official. Observing the need of my community further encouraged me to pursue a graduate degree in speech-language pathology. I choose to complete my studies in the United States for many reasons. One of them being that US has a diverse population: refugees, immigrants, and others. Therefore, I would benefit from getting externships where I can interact with diverse populations.
It is like a ripple effect where the positive change in the life of someone continues to spread to an enormous result of improving the life of the community of that individual. Due to the shortage of services in speech-language pathology in Kuwait, information about the field is hard to come by. As I researched and studied more about communication disorders and the impact on people’s lives, my interest and passion continued to bloom. I grew up believing that I would find my greatest success by helping others; thus, this area of speech-language pathology will help me thrive with passion and compassion. I dedicated my time to expand my horizon of knowledge by utilizing a variety of opportunities beyond academia to gain relevant experiences in the field of speech-language pathology. To highlight a few, I actively volunteered with the school’s National Student Speech Language and Hearing Association (NSSLHA) chapter.
Through this experience, I have worked with school-aged children with Autism as well as adults with Parkinson’s disease. I have encountered situations where I tailored my communication to meet the individual’s level of communication. For instance, when working with a child with autism who is hard of hearing, I used my proficiency in American Sign Language to communicate with him. Applying this skill with the knowledge learned about total communication provided a supportive environment for the child to communicate. Also, I worked as a research assistant during my undergraduate studies which allowed me to work one-on-one with infants that are at risk for autism spectrum disorders (ASD). This opportunity strengthened my clinical skills in recognizing potential signs of ASD. It also strengthened my research abilities specifically in research process and data collection. I currently work as a pediatric speech-language pathology assistant at Children’s Evaluation and Rehabilitation Center (CERC) which is supporting my readiness for the clinical practicum in graduate school.
Being able to lead supervised sessions from A to Z gave me an insight of the regular routine of a clinician, built up my confidence in treating certain deficits such as deficits in pragmatic skills and improved my understanding of different disorders such as Williams Syndrome. I learned how to adapt the session materials, communicate and interact in a culturally appropriate way. I learned how to collaborate with other professionals (e.g., physiotherapist and psychologist) to provide effective therapy in a joined session. This skill is helpful for graduate school because it will prepare me to work effectively with clients from different cultures and ethnicity backgrounds as well as other health care providers (i.e., physicians, doctors) during my externships. Therefore, these opportunities equipped me with the necessary skills to become a dedicated practitioner, reflective scholar and responsible citizen. They helped me to become exceptionally motivated for graduate work.
I enjoy playing basketball, swimming, running, and dancing. My hobbies and interest in being active is helpful during graduate school, because they will help me deliver therapy that consists of activities that are active. Because of the experiences that I had, I have continued to develop my interest in working with the pediatric population, treating children with neurological and genetic disorders, especially children on the Autism Spectrum. After completing my master’s, I would like to work with children in a medical setting and seek opportunities to deliver international speech-language services to children in under developing countries. Following that, I plan to attain a clinical doctorate degree to expand my clinical expertise in developing diverse therapy approaches that accommodate children’s needs globally
I hope my services to be fruitful for the people I serve as I expect them to be for me. Ultimately, my hope is to lead the development of speech-language pathology and related services within the Kuwaiti community. I started on this journey with the simple desire to help children with communication disorders. That desire, however, has now become my life’s passion. Very passionate and a hard worker, I dedicate most of my time to professional and self-development. I see the full embrace of ethnic, national, and linguistic diversity to be a central, integral aspect of our profession, SLP. Completing your program will prepare me for making my maximum contribution to SLP services in Kuwait, making help available for children and adults in a variety of settings. Kuwait has great need in this area since there is shortage of well-trained professional in SLP. I want to think of myself as an Advocate for SLP services in Kuwait and I hope to at some point help to create a Kuwaiti association for SLPS research. I am especially concerned with the need to create more effective Standardized tests, in Kuwait and, in fact, throughout the Middle East.
The youngest child in my family growing up in Kuwait, I am also a trailblazer, the only child in my family, for example, to go to a private kindergarten, The Pakistani School, where I was introduced to British English for the first time; and children from all over the world speaking multiple languages. I was the first female in my family to receive a fully funded tuition scholarship to pursue a higher education degree abroad. Six years later, I graduated with an Honor’s Degree, earning my BS in Speech-Language Pathology.
I have volunteered to serve people, and especially children, in ____’s community, throughout the course of my undergraduate education. I have been a highly active volunteer with one of our SLP clubs to raise funds for children/adults and to organize and support events. I have done research as well as some clinical work and I have learned from these experiences to open to people and to understand the challenges they face. I have learned to be flexible and considerate. I came to realize that working one-on-one with children is where my principal interest and passion lie; this is the area in which I keenly look forward to giving the balance of my professional life, working with children in a medical setting, a hospital or a rehabilitation center.
I hope to eventually earn a clinical doctorate degree focused on my research in Kuwait, all geared towards advocacy with the goal of making SLP service more accessible in Kuwait.
Thank you for considering my application.
Master's SLP Program Personal Purpose Statement Editor