Using personal experiences to help others communicate

This profile is part of our Education with Impact series. Find out how you can make a difference by studying psychology at The University of Winnipeg here.

Janel Bortoluzzi is currently learning everything she can about the brain and how it works, so she can help people with communications barriers in the future. Once she completes her undergraduate degree in psychology at UWinnipeg she plans to pursue a master’s degree and become a speech-language pathologist (S-LP) — a goal that stems from personal experiences. 

Bortoluzzi was first introduced to the profession when she was six years old because she struggled with her speech and articulating the letter “r.”

“I dreaded circle time in my Grade 1 class because my teacher would assign each student a word to recite, and my assigned words often included the ‘r’ sound,” she said. “I distinctly remember one time when the word I had to pronounce was ‘girl,’ but all I could say was ‘gill.'”

Shortly after this incident, her parents enrolled her in a speech therapy program where she learned how to articulate the “r” sound thanks to the help on a S-LP. However, it wasn’t until high school that Bortoluzzi knew she wanted to work in the field. 

“My grandmother suffered from a stroke in 2013,” she said. “I was present at many of my grandmother’s speech therapy sessions, and witnessing her progress inspired me to become an S-LP. I thought of others like my grandma and realized that communication barriers have no age specificity, and that there is a high demand for S-LPs across varying demographics.”

Studying psychology at UWinnipeg has given her the foundation to follow these dreams and the opportunity to research the things she’s interested in.

The University’s close-knit community has also allowed Bortoluzzi to get involved in a variety of student groups advocating for mental health, inclusivity, accessibility, human rights, refugee rights, and women’s rights. She has participated in campaigns like the Education for All Campaign, the Breaking Barriers Summit on Mental Health, and the WUSC Benefit Concert for World Refugee Day.

Bortoluzzi is also the founder of Tapportunity, a free drop-in tap-dancing program for youth in Winnipeg’s inner-city. 

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