Tori Currier, a fourth semester student in the Communication Sciences and Disorders master’s degree program, knows what it’s like to go through hard times when a loved one receives a life-changing medical diagnosis. More importantly, she knows how impactful it is to have the right people on your medical team.
Currier decided to become a speech language pathologist during her senior year of high school when her mother’s achalasia, a rare esophageal disorder, worsened quickly. The achalasia affected her mother’s esophagus, decreasing her ability to speak, swallow and breath. Over time, her esophagus became so distorted that she was near death due to malnutrition. Throughout this experience, Currier came across SLPs who were “patient centered, empathetic and compassionate.” Ultimately, these inspiring individuals led her mother to a surgeon who performed a life-changing surgery to remove her esophagus. After recovering from surgery, her mother can now breathe and speak normally, as well as swallow most foods and liquids. This major life event served as a watershed moment that inspired her to pursue the field of medical speech-language pathology.
The experience taught Currier the importance of a team approach to healthcare and not giving up when a situation looks dire. “Always turn your emotions into a passion and push through with hard work and dedication,” said Currier.
After her mother’s experience, Currier volunteered at the Orlando Cancer Center within the laryngectomy support group. Here, she offered personal advice and empathy to the patients and their families. This experience fueled her desire to make a difference in the lives of others and give back to the community. She wants to be more than an advocate, she wants to have the skills to empower those affected with speech, language and swallowing disorders to reach their goals.
Even though grad school takes up most of her time, Currier still finds ways to continue supporting patients and their families. She enjoys being a graduate clinician in the intensive comprehensive aphasia program (ICAP) at UCF’s Aphasia House. She says her experiences make her even more compassionate and informed as a clinician. She looks forward to stepping into the clinicians’ shoes before her and making her own impact on the lives of patients and their loved ones to improve their quality of life.