College of Healthcare Sciences

Publish Date

10 May 2019

Related Study Areas

When passion meets profession

Recent JCU Speech Pathology graduate Brittany Vella has combined her love of the Arts, particularly musical theatre, with her academic pursuits and yielded some life-changing results.

Brittany’s hard work, dedication and commitment have landed her in the Speech Pathology department of the Townsville Hospital. She considered the coveted position a far-off goal when she walked into her first lecture at JCU.

Brittany’s new position is the latest in a long line of good news she received throughout 2018, and it all started with her Honours project, which focused on the Townsville Choral Society’s production of Les Misérables, an ironic origin for such happy news.

James Cook University Metal
 JCU Speech Pathology graduate Brittany Vella

“I was always interested in the Arts; I did a lot of drama, singing and dancing at school,” Brittany says.

“I always knew I wanted to get into the healthcare industry. I wanted a job that was rewarding and one where I worked with patients to reach their goals.

“There are so many areas of speech pathology that you can get into and the one area that I was really interested in was voice, where you can work with musical theatre singers, public speakers and performers. I think it’s a really good combination of both healthcare and the arts.”

Even a 19th century French peasant could figure out that Brittany has found the ideal combination of her personal and professional interests, and her honours project was a culmination of this meeting.

Brittany used the Evaluation of the Ability to Sing Easily (EASE) self-assessment tool (created for use with professional musical theatre singers) with the Townsville Choral Society’s amateur performers. Brittany’s research found that the tool is also useful for amateur singers, as with professionals.

For her efforts Brittany earned a 1A for her Honours, and was awarded the University Medal at her graduation ceremony.

“It was not expected and I was very happy to receive the University Medal,” she says.

From strength to strength

On top of this achievement, Brittany’s work has been recommended for publication, so she’s begun the meticulous process of editing and refining her paper before peer review and publication.

“I’m working with my honours supervisor Louise Brown and one of my Senior Lecturers from JCU, Dr Debra Phyland, who is the voice consultant for Melbourne Theatre Company. We’re looking at my project and preparing to submit for publication in the Journal of Voice,” Brittany says.

The final feather in Brittany’s cap may be her most life changing: her position in the Speech Pathology department of the Townsville Hospital straight out of university.

“Townsville Hospital was my first choice, I didn’t expect to get it first up, I was prepared to work my way up to the Townsville Hospital, so I’m very happy that I’m there,” the Speech Pathologist said.

“The first week will be orientation and then my case load will be in the paediatric ward, then after three months I rotate somewhere else.”

“It’s been a little overwhelming. I’m not the kind of person that expects all these awards, and to get a job straight away, it has been a bit overwhelming. I’ve always been someone that will work my hardest and it has paid off so it’s very exciting.”

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