Podiatry student shares how dyslexia gave her a different spin on life

My name is Madelaine Parker, I was born and raised in Christchurch, New Zealand, and this is my personal journey with dyslexia and how I gained university entrance. In my first year of school teachers noticed I was often disengaged and was unable to understand basic classroom content. It became evident, because of this, that I had an underlying learning disability.

By the age of eight, I knew that I was struggling with my school work and this hindered my overall confidence. Within the same year, I was diagnosed with dyslexia. Although accommodations were made, the schooling curriculum was very scheduled, rigid and did not offer much flexibility for my learning needs. This caused a large amount of emotional and mental stress growing up. However, these struggles at school, in combination with my highly competitive and motivated nature, lead me to my fourteen-year figure skating career.

“…teachers told my parents that due to my dyslexia I would be unable to complete high school…”

As high school commenced teachers told my parents that due to my dyslexia I would be unable to complete high school too and obtain university entrance. Shortly after this, my school and home were all destroyed in the Christchurch earthquakes. In order to maintain a sense of normality, my family and I moved to Sydney where I continued my figure skating career and attended The Corresponded School of New Zealand.

Maddie was about to see her Olympic dreams become reality when she sustained a life changing injury.

To the disbelief of my high school teachers I graduated but just missed out on university entrance. This did not concern me as I was preparing to move to Canada in preparation for the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games. 

During my preparation for the Olympic Games, I sustained an injury to my hip. This resulted in eight operations and total pelvic reconstruction. During this time, I retired from skating, moved back to Sydney and lost my sense of purpose. I completed my Certificate III and IV in Fitness, however, I wanted more for myself.

It was through my own research and sporting career that I decided to study podiatry. I reached out to my sports podiatrist, Trent Salkavich, who informed me that CQUniversity had started a Podiatry program.  

I was informed that the University offered a pathways program called STEPS. STEPS is a completely government-funded program that transformed my life and I now have a new direction and sense of purpose.

Completing STEPS and my first year in my degree with CQUniversity was without a doubt one of my biggest achievements to date. I feel the lecturers, and all other management involved, want me to succeed and achieve my goals. I feel they are all rooting for me. In the future, I would love to work in paediatric podiatrist care or with elite level athletes.

I am an example of making the impossible possible and through dedication, planning and utilizing the university’s support systems I am making my dreams a reality. I could not speak more highly of the STEPS course and the opportunities it has opened up for me. I don’t know where I would be without it.

Get your next step to university

Is your dream to get a university qualification?

But you’re worried you don’t have the ranking or prerequisites required? We are going to get all philosophical and say,’ there is more than one road to the same destination’. So don’t panic, the CQUniversity STEPS program can be that road to who you want to be. Continue reading Get your next step to university

A step in the right direction


My name is James McLauchlan and I am currently a second year Bachelor of Psychological Science student.  I officially started my journey at CQU as a Skills for Tertiary Education Preparatory Studies (STEPS) student during Term Two in 2015. At the beginning, I had no idea what to expect out of the course as I was never considered as ‘intellectually gifted’ in high school. Fortunately for me, my lecturers were so passionate about what they were there to do for the students. If it weren’t for Desley and Robyn and the amount of effort they put into their students, I strongly believe things could have played out differently for me.

Continue reading A step in the right direction

Steps towards my future career

My name is Georgia and I have been studying with CQUniversity since November 2015. I began STEPS to gain entry into my desired undergraduate degree.

When spinal surgery prevented me from finishing my final year of high school, I was faced with a difficult decision; repeat grade 12 or find an alternate route into University.

Continue reading Steps towards my future career

My STEPS to the Bachelor of Nursing

My Steps to Bachelor of Nursing

My journey started in February 2015 when I conjured up enough courage to walk into CQUniversity’s Bundaberg campus. For me, the idea of becoming a Registered Nurse took a back seat as marriage, family and many children seemed to keep this dream at bay. With my youngest starting high school, I decided that this time was for me to find out how to reach the goal I had set out to achieve many years ago. Walking in, what a daunting experience that was, but as the amazing staff pointed me in the direction of the STEPS window, my life changed. Continue reading My STEPS to the Bachelor of Nursing