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Pakistani Speech Therapist, Communications Disorders

My central goal is to become the finest multilingual and multicultural SLP Therapist possible. A young Pakistani woman who was raised almost entirely in Canada, it was not easy for me to get up the courage to attend graduate school in our native Pakistan rather than Canada; but I did it. Now that I have earned my Master’s Degree in Speech Language Pathology in Pakistan, I am more fully bilingual and posess a professional capacity in Urdu that will be most helpful when working in the future both with the children of Pakistani immigrants to Canada, but also back in Pakistan, teaching Speech Language Pathology in Urdu as well as English. My grandmother was a major figure in my life and my development. She was another reason why I went to Pakistan to complete my first Master’s Degree, so that I could spend time with her since she was ill.  

I have a long way to go but I am convinced that I will be able to succeed as a multilingual, international, Speech Language Pathologist and researcher in this area. I intend to earn my second Master’s Degree in the same area so as to prepare myself fully and be able to practice in Canada, my home country. McGill University is my first choice for earning my Master’s Degree in Canada in Communication Sciences & Disorders because of the sheer excellence and sterling reputation of your program.

My personal and professional goals are largely the same. Young, single, and entirely devoted to my career, I live for little else at this time in my life but becoming a successful, Clinical Speech-Language Pathologist treating communication disorders. While studying in Pakistan, I was faced with great challenges in the assessment and treatment of communication disorders, especially language disorders. Many of the problems that we had to overcome in Pakistan were due to an acute lack of resources available for the assessment and treatment of language disorders among Urdu speakers, especially material geared towards the Urdu language. It is my hope to contribute in the future to this great lack and to help develop assessment and treatment materials in Urdu.

Often in Pakistan, I found myself struggling to determine the specifics of a language disorder in a patient. This was especially true with respect to expressive language disorders. I had to sort it all out on my own, the complex ways in which the patient would manifest their difficulty in Urdu. Is the morphology or the syntax or all components of language involved in speech communication difficulties? Soon, however, I was able to determine Urdu language development milestones with regards to expression that the child in question was often missing.

Sometimes, I would find myself troubled by the way in which SLPs in Pakistan tended to determine a child’s level of language development according to the standards of English language development in typical English-speaking children. I became increasingly fascinated by what I began to see as significant differences between English- and Urdu-language development and subsequently went on to write my Master’s Thesis on this subject: “Urdu Language Assessment for Children,” based partly on the work of Marion Blank. I look forward to several decades of intensive research, especially as concerns SLP in our native Pakistan.

I plan to devote my professional lifetime to the intersection between Urdu language acquisition and Speech Language Pathology and therapy, with special attention to morphology and syntax, on the one hand, and stages of expression on the other. I find myself most intrigued by babbling at word stages 4 and 5. I look forward, in particular, to conducting a longitudinal study with a combination of naturalistic sampling and semi-structured elicitation to collect data.

Being accepted into your Communication Sciences and Disorders - language acquisition –program at McGill, will enable me to continue my work on Urdu language acquisition. Ultimately, I hope to create a standardized language assessment test for speakers of Urdu. There has been very little research on Urdu language development; thus, the need is great for establishing standards and stages of language acquisition in Urdu upon which to base a proper diagnosis – with standardized assessment tools to accurately diagnose language disorders. My research could help to spread awareness about language disorders amongst the Pakistani population as there is little awareness of this subject matter and those who are affected are usually shunned and sidelined, not allowed to participate in society

There is an intimate relationship between my experience and training, on the one hand, and my proposed research on the other. I am currently working towards the creation of a non-profit organization which I plan to register in the near future. I have named it Izhaar ('to express' in Urdu) to spread awareness of communication disorders and provide funds for those who cannot afford therapy. My long term goal is to start a clinic in Pakistan that assesses and provides therapy for low income individuals presenting with complications in their communication or swallowing. I will soon be getting started on the development of a state-of-the-art website for this organization that will list all SLP services available through all of Pakistan. I will describe each communication disorder and invite people to write blogs about their struggles with respect to communication disorders, patients and their families as well as SLPs.

I am driven to help people with communication disorders regardless of their socioeconomic status. I want to help to establish the field of SLP in Pakistan and spread awareness about communication disorders, perhaps in time in other underdeveloped nations as well. I would like to someday take my non-profit to an international level and do awareness campaigns in other Asian nations that face challenges similar to those faced by Pakistan.

My preferred supervisor at McGill University would be Elin Thordardottir given her distinguished and fascinating track record in the area of communication disorder among multilingual children. In addition to my extensive volunteer experience in this area, I also have extensive research experience in SLP. I completed 2 major research projects as a graduate student in Pakistan prior to writing my thesis for which I developed an Urdu language assessment tool for children aged 3-6. I am very passionate about making my special contribution to the field of SLP. Being accepted to the cutting-edge program at McGill University will be the crowning achievement of my life that will serve as the optimal springboard to propel my SLP career forward for decades to come.

I thank you for considering my application.

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