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Up Education

Kiwi grad turns dyslexia into dream career

29 Sep 2022

Dyslexia is a learning disability that affects one in ten New Zealanders, including 70,000 school children.

One of those Kiwis is Siubhan McPhail, New Zealand School of Tourism (NZST) graduate, who is defying stereotypes of dyslexia with two awards under her belt.

Siubhan’s awards include the 2020 Top Tourism and Travel Student Award and the 2022 runner-up for the Ritz-Carlton Leader of the Quarter Award.

Siubhan says her awards are a recognition of her work and world ready skills, but the journey hasn’t been easy given her struggle with dyslexia.

“I struggled a lot in high school, so it wasn’t until I was well into my twenties that I decided to enter tertiary study with NZST,” says Siubhan.

“I used to get bullied in high school because I was always behind the class in every single subject. When it came to presentations, I wouldn’t be able to make sense of the words and numbers on the page, so I had to painfully stutter my way through.”

“After years of not understanding and losing all confidence, I gave up on education for years after high school and decided to work in Europe instead. This is where my love for travel and tourism grew.”

When Siubhan returned to New Zealand, she decided to enrol at NZST in Dunedin.

“My final marks were exceptionally higher than high school as NZST allowed me more time to complete my assessments and I wasn’t just restricted to essay writing.”

“Education providers must understand that there are many different forms of dyslexia, and each person will experience different struggles.”

“Young students are going through enough personal struggles, it’s important to check in with them regularly and see what works for them.”

Since graduating, Siubhan has gained valuable industry experience. Currently, Siubhan is loving her role as an Event Concierge at the Ritz-Carlton Beach Resort in Naples, Florida USA.

“Honestly, I love my job. I get to meet and work with clients from all walks of life – planning and executing luxurious events at a high standard.”

“My advice to other students with dyslexia is to keep believing in yourself. You learn differently from everyone else and that’s okay. It doesn’t mean you can’t reach your dream – just look at me.”