Kelly Stijkel

Kelly Stijkel


BSc (Hons) Speech-Language Pathology, MSc Healthcare Policy, Innovation and Management

Hello, my name is Kelly. 

I studied my undergraduate degree at the University of Cape Town, where I qualified in 2016 with a Speech-Language Pathology Honours degree. After completing my studies, I had the opportunity to set up my own private practice and the only public speech and language therapy service in one of Zimbabwe’s largest hospitals. I was also involved in supporting the curriculum development of the University of Zimbabwe’s first Speech-Language Pathology undergraduate degree, which aims to create a larger SaLT workforce in the country. Following my time in Zimbabwe, I decided to pursue a postgraduate degree in the Netherlands, where I qualified with a Master’s degree in Healthcare Policy, Innovation and Management from Maastricht University in 2018. During this time, I also had the incredible opportunity of a 2-month internship at the World Health Organization in Geneva, where I worked on a range of public-health policies. 

I started working for Words First Ltd in April 2019, initially working within secondary and SEMH settings and then moving to mainstream primary schools. I am passionate about what I do, not only because I get to support EYFS and primary school children who have speech, language and communication difficulties, but also because I get to work closely with staff members and families. Within the Words First team, I am the Marketing Lead, Student Placement Coordinator, and also a mentor to new starters. Words First Ltd has given me many opportunities to develop myself as a Speech and Language Therapist. I have been provided with supervision and mentorship, and have been able to focus on non-clinical responsibilities alongside my day-to-day role as a primary-school therapist. My special areas of interest include speech sounds disorders and paediatric feeding and swallowing difficulties (dysphagia). I recently joined the NHS part-time in September 2021 to pursue my interest in paediatric feeding and swallowing, where I work for Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust at St Mary’s Hospital. I work within the General Paediatric Wards and the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit. This is an exciting journey for me, and I look forward to supporting Words First Ltd to further develop in assisting families who have children with feeding and swallowing difficulties.

In my spare time you can find me cycling, going on long walks, spending time with friends, travel researching, and exploring London’s food scene! If you had to call one of my best friends, they would describe me as engaging, considerate and organised.