In recognition of International Day of People with Disability, held annually on 3 December, we asked our CQUni students who have accessed our Student Accessibility and Equity service to share their success stories. This year’s theme is seeing the ability in disability.
Our first student, Kat Williamson, is a Bachelor of Laws student. While studying at CQUni, Kat has maintained a high GPA, become involved in clubs and achieved her goals whilst managing a disability.
We spoke to Kat and asked her to share her story…
Tell us a little about your strengths, abilities and achievements as a student.
In my first year, I managed a 6.2 GPA. It was only achievable through sheer guts, determination and pure team effort. To study online, whilst working, raising a family and dealing with a new disability is daunting but by focusing on our strengths and utilising the support at CQUni, it has made it easier to focus on what I do well and not what I am unable to do.
My biggest challenge was to accept my new normal. I needed to adapt to my physical ability and have the courage to ask for help. Asking for help does not mean you are defeated.
A team effort consists of love and support from your family, great lecturers, and a support team of many therapists which are a testament to my results.
I also become a member of the CQUni Law society. In October I represented CQUni at the QILS Intervarsity Law Competition and my cohort colleague Izzie and I came runners up in the Client Interview. I am very proud to represent CQUni.
What other achievements are you proud of or are working towards outside of studies?
I dream of being able to ride my horses again. I miss the freedom, the wind in my hair and of course that loveable horse smell on my clothes. The freedom horse riding provides me is a necessity for my mental health.
The grey horse is my mare Lucy, The bay (brown) is Thomas the stock horse and the pretty Barbie horse is my palomino Buddy Forest Gump.
My success at university motivates me to keep pursuing my outside goals despite the challenges.
What tools or supports help you achieve your study goals?
I use Dragon Speaking software. I can now operate my computer without my hands and to dictate my assessments. It takes about 16 hours to program, but I am now reaping those rewards.
I will point out that at times I wear a neck traction brace on my bad days. Reading loads of case law is a bit of a challenge. I read on my massage table and lay face down. I am learning to be adaptable and inventive.
The best tool of support is my CQUni Accessibility Consultant, Natalie. Nat allows me to vent my frustrations and she provides support and advice to those annoyances, she is great to bounce ideas off, laugh with and allows me to still smile whilst working out what is and is not achievable.
What do you hope to achieve when you graduate?
I am going to be a registered Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner and aid families in the process of separation, divorce and to avoid the court process. I want to continue my advocacy work as a Coronial Advocate, and assist families in Inquests, be a driving force behind legislation changes to Child Protection and Safety.
One thing you’d like others to see differently about abilities/disability?
That all students no matter what their ability is, they can be successful. I believe in unlocking the potential from within every student with educational pathways that are adaptable – the key to being successful is setting and achieving realistic goals.
What can CQUni do as an institution to see the ability in disability?
Rural students with a disability do not need to leave home to study. As a leader in online education, CQUni has made it possible for rural students living with a disability to study from home. CQUni has a range of support services and opportunities for students with disabilities. There are endless possibilities. I see CQUni as being a driving force behind rural tertiary education for its accessibility students.
International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD)
IDPwD is a United Nations observed day celebrated internationally. It aims to increase public awareness, understanding and acceptance of people with disability and celebrate their achievements and contributions.
Information on how you can get involved in the day as an individual or organisation and how to break down barriers (both structural and attitudinal) for people with disability can be found online.
If you want to get involved with this day at CQUni, reach out to our Student Accessibility and Equity team.
This blog was written by Kat Williamson.