This post was written by Karina Grigorian, a UTS student and member of the Student Learning Advisory Committee (SLAC).

My name is Karina and I am a first year Social and Political Science student at UTS. In 2023, I made the most of the year through navigating new tertiary education, making new friends and dealing with life in general. Having not had the best experience in high school, it made me want to find myself and create a new identity.

The disability

The stigma of having a disability is completely overrated, you do not have to have a severe condition that is noticeable to struggle in every aspect of your life. For me, I have cerebral palsy, a mild right hemiplegia. This means that my right side is quite weak. This has caused me to limp when I walk and has left me with only really my left hand to support myself. Academically it has been a struggle as I have to compete to keep up with note taking and writing assessments only being able to type with my left hand.

High school

Having a disability through your major adolescence in high school is hard. Especially when you always have casts on your leg and at one point in a wheel chair from surgery. I was always taught to embrace my disability but I always was embarrassed being the only one who had a physical disability at my school.

That is why, when I got into university with no friends from my high school or no one doing my course, I was adamant on changing.

Accessibility at UTS

Having NESA disability provisions in high school I knew there had to be an equivalent in university. The services they had suggested were beyond what I expected, with a case manager that could help me with all my needs was all the reassurance I needed. Having a meeting with my accessibility manager, we discussed the services that would be beneficial for me.

  • Assignment extensions
  • Timetable changes
  • Notetakers for lectures

Having the ability to use these services has made my academic experience a lot smoother as it allows me to keep up with my peers.

The captivation of societies

This was all the benefit I needed, but then came the social side. Being an extroverted person has always been a struggle as I have always been put down by other people. With easy societies to join, such as the Communications Society, I was able to meet people from my degree and even become friends with the people from my class.

Clubs that turn personal interests into an opportunity to make friends have been an incredible experience. I am now a part of five societies and have made friends from all of them, they include:

  • Communication Society
  • Journalism society
  • Slavic Society
  • Armenian Society
  • Taylor Swift Society
  • Literature Society

Summary and advice

If you have read till the end, congrats and thank you!

Overall, if you are entering university with a physical or mental adversity, my advice would be to not be scared. There are endless support systems that uni can provide, and pathways to meet like minded people who accept you.

No matter your age or how far you are in your degree, do not be afraid to take the most out of the opportunities provided at uni to make your life a lot easier!

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