The realm of communications has dominated Renee Buckingham’s life since she graduated from Griffith University with a degree in journalism in 2001 and took her first steps into the hectic world of broadcast media.

Six years reporting for Prime TV, Channel 9 and Channel 10 were followed by more than three years leading media and public relations for CareFlight, the aero-medical emergency service.

“With CareFlight I worked closely with doctors and witnessed firsthand the lives we were saving. It really opened my eyes,” Renee (pictured) says.

It also stirred a desire in Renee that returns her to Griffith University to renew her interest in communications, albeit from a novel perspective.

The 32-year-old starts a Master of Speech Pathology at the Gold Coast campus next week, one of 35 students who have enrolled in the new program.

“When I was looking for Speech Pathology study options and my partner found the new Masters program on the Griffith website, I knew this was meant to be,” she says.

“When you want something so bad, you just do it. And with a Masters you don’t have to start all over again.

“I’ve had this desire to help people directly but I never had the qualifications. I’ve always had such a passion for communication, I had skills in articulation and I believed I could use all this to really help people.”

She has always been aware of voice patterns throughout her working life, a skill developed initially by mimicking the pitch of TV journalists she admired in her teens and early 20s.

At Griffith Renee will be trained to help and support a range of people in need, from post trauma patients to children and adults with speech, language or swallowing difficulties.

She is eager to engage with the problem-based learning challenges students will face almost from day one. The two-year full-time program will also incorporate a series of industry and clinical placements designed to give full and early effect to classroom learning.

Griffith Health has collaborated with a wide range of service providers in southeast Queensland and northern NSW to gather support for student placement opportunities.

Griffith Health also liaised closely with the Gold Coast Health Service District in the development of the program which aims to develop and retain a local workforce.

“Because of this consultation we are sitting in a fantastic position from the outset to connect and engage with clients, clinicians, and the whole community,” Associate Professor Elizabeth Cardell, who heads the program, says.

The program will be officially launched on Friday (Feb 24) and will eventually be based at the new $150 million Griffith Health Centre which is under construction and due to be completed in 2013.

The possibility of working in the other new building also under construction across the road from the new health centre is now a tempting thought for Renee.

“I believe I’ll be on the Gold Coast, working in that great new hospital. I remember covering the story when plans for the new hospital first came to light many years ago. It’s funny how life goes.”