I began my educational journey in Kindergarten at All Saints Grammar in 1997 and graduated from the Secondary Campus as part of the class of 2009. My time at All Saints Grammar, shaped by my committed teachers and a strong foundation of core ethical values including social responsibility, inspired me to do the work I do today; making a positive contribution to the lives of those living with cerebral palsy after leaving school.

My career started with the completion of a Bachelor of Applied Science in Speech Pathology at The University of Sydney. After graduating with Honours in 2013, I returned to commence a PhD in 2018. My research focuses on improving the lives of young adults with cerebral palsy who experience difficulties in eating and drinking safely. Dysphagia is a swallowing condition that affects a large proportion of people with disabilities, but particularly people with cerebral palsy. I am passionate about improving dysphagia for a vulnerable population that is immensely underrepresented, with the aim to prevent fatal conditions such as aspiration pneumonia.

I have always been passionate about helping those in need and it was this passion that motivated me to pursue a degree as an Allied Health Professional. Since graduating from University, I have been working as a Speech Pathologist and supporting children and adults with disabilities. Working across both government and non-government organisations to provide Speech Pathology services to support the communication and swallowing needs of people with severe and complex disabilities has been extremely rewarding.

Many of my clients are non-verbal communicators and often rely on others to interpret their communication. They may also not have good control of their bodies due to their medical conditions, meaning that they can only use their eyes to communicate. One highlight of my career has been to teach these clients to communicate with others using eye-gaze technology, that generates speech and gives them a voice.

I feel very grateful to be pursuing a career path that I am genuinely passionate about and that brings me great joy. I credit the emotional balance and intellectual rigour that I developed as a student at All Saints in helping me pursue my clinical work and research as a PhD candidate in Speech Pathology.

Completing a PhD has brought me multiple opportunities including presenting my research on a national and international level, at the Australasian Academy of Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine and the European Society of Swallowing Disorders in Vienna, Austria. I have also had the opportunity to conduct guest lectures at The University of Sydney, as well as to work as a Clinical Educator for Speech Pathology students at the University. The experience of teaching others and sharing knowledge has been immensely fulfilling and has allowed me to continue to grow as an individual.

My greatest achievement and proudest accomplishment has been having the opportunity to improve the lives of people in great need, helping them to participate in simple activities such as eating a meal and by giving them a voice when they had none.

Loren Apokourastos, Class of 2009