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inhouse highlight - Jessica

Taking on her first degree and far from Arizona, nineteen-year-old Jessica is settling into a semester abroad here in Darwin.

For Jessica, finding the right degree wasn’t as simple as she first thought. After trial and error, she found the perfect balance of motivation, skill and passion and has pursued speech pathology.

“I always wanted to be a nurse,” Jessica said. “I grew up in hospitals due to my mom’s health and always had a strong passion for helping people and a weird love of hospitals.”

“So, upon graduating from high school, I decided to go to Northern Arizona University because of its excellent nursing program. However, I am not very good at science, and I started to fall behind and didn’t love the idea of nursing anymore.”

“For a while, I had been interested in music therapy as music is a huge passion of mine. Unfortunately, that was not an option for me, and I had to find something new. That’s when I found it! I stumbled across a YouTube channel called The Social Speechie. I dove into the world of speech pathology and completely fell in love! It has everything that I ever wanted in a job, and I can even work in a hospital.”

Now in a career pathway that’s right for her, Jessica had a free semester with NAU and was looking to take part in an exchange program.

“I had always wanted to study abroad in Australia but was too nervous to do it alone,” she said. “Then, my roommate came home one day wanting to go to Australia, so here I am!”

“I came to Charles Darwin University because it was a really good school and it was one of the only schools that still had spots available.”

But for someone who’s never lived far from the comfort of friends and family, Jessica has been experiencing the challenges that come with exchange.

"I dove into the world of speech pathology and feel in love"

“The furthest I’ve been from Arizona was Texas,” Jessica said. “I’ve never even been outside of the country before now!”

“The most challenging thing about being away from home is getting used to being on my own. I’ve only ever been a couple of hours from my family for school, and I went home all the time to visit. Plus, I could call home whenever I wanted if I was having a bad day or I just wanted to talk. Now, I can’t just go home, and if I want to talk to my family, I have to either wake up early or stay up super late.”

“Honestly though, I think that talking to them makes it so much harder. When I’m not talking to family, and I’m out and about, I’m not really thinking about missing home. When I call home or look at old pictures and things, the distance starts to set in. Thankfully though I have made a lot of friends so far that keep me going and happy!”

Like most of the IHD Community, Jessica has made many new and interesting friends. By getting involved in Orientation, she’s already learnt so much about the many cultures and backgrounds housed at IHD.

“The best thing about being here so far is the fact that I get to learn about so many different cultures,” she said. “Back home, in school, we don’t get to learn about other countries much. All we talked about were the important things that happened in America and World Wars and such.”

“Being here has made me realise how little I actually know about other places around the world and I have really loved getting to hear about everyone’s home!”

Now that Jessica has ticked-off the number one item on her bucket list – to come to Australia – Jessica’s excited about her future and the prospect of continuing to learn a career she’s fallen in love with.

Something you may not know about me: "I love being outdoors! I am not an athletic person at all, but I really do love being active & getting outside. My favourite outdoor activities are going to the beach, going off-roading & hiking. I've never been fishing, but I've always wanted to learn."

Jessica's hobbies & passions: "I love to play the ukulele & paint! I haven't been playing the ukulele for very long & I'm not exactly an artist, but those things make me really happy. I also love to read & write poetry. I have always thought that is was really interesting how one stanza can mean so many different things to so many different people."