Deafblind student graduates

Deafblind student graduates

31 Mar 2011

Blues enthusiast Michelle Stevens has been playing the piano since before she was five. It aided the stress that accompanied studying a Bachelor of Arts at La Trobe University, which could only be undertaken part-time by the Deafblind student.

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Transcript

Narrator:

Blues enthusiast, Michelle Stevens, has been playing the piano since before she was five. It aided the stress that accompanied studying a Bachelor of Arts at La Trobe University, which could only be undertaken part-time by the Deafblind student.

Michelle Stevens:

Quite often people ask me what sort of enjoyment do I get out of the piano? I suppose it is a great release from studying. Studying is not only mentally exhausting at times, but studying also can provide interesting challenges, and playing the piano is actually a great release for some of the tensions that you sometimes fell during study.

Narrator:

Before taking on tertiary education, Michelle had to complete VCE English and a Diploma of Deaf Studies in order to work with tactile Auslan interpreters to access her lectures and tutorials.

Michelle Stevens:

Because primarily my communication is through tactile sign language, I needed to have a very deep understanding of what it was like and to see accurate signs during lectures and tutorials.

Narrator:

Throughout her university career, Michelle became increasingly interested in History and finally chose it as her major.

Jennifer Ridden:

Well, Michelle was really keen to learn and so she was interested in finding out about new things and thinking about things in a new way, and that meant she was prepared to read or use her electronic equipment to read through brail with the help of the Equality and Diversity unit and through the help of the interpreters and really explore the ideas that were being discussed in the subject. She got more and more excited as the material in the course on riots and rebellions in the British Isles developed and as that material opened up to her, and the excitement was infectious. So we all enjoyed working with her because the more excited she got, of course the more excited we got and that makes it a terrific experience for everyone.

Narrator:

After six years of studying Michelle graduated on the Friday the 25th March 2011. The emotional day was shared by friends family and staff from La Trobe that all played a big roll in supporting her dream.

Jennifer Ridden:

She's put so much work into this degree and she's had so much determination and energy to come to the completion of her degree and I was so proud when she invited me to take part in it and to go onto the stage in my gown to be part of her ceremony.

Sally Freeman:

The Equality and Diversity Centre are so proud of Michelle's graduation. We've been working and supporting her over the last six years, and for a student who's Deafblind undertaking studies at La Trobe, at University, at any University involves a lot of resources, a lot of staff and it's been a collective effort for her to progress academically so successfully.

Michelle Stevens:

Its really important that people with disabilities must become empowered to make sure that they get the absolute most out of life as one could possibly get, but I quite often think of this that my teacher said to me, "I wouldn't amount to anything, I will always be stupid," and I remember at Glenn College last year at my valedictory dinner, I remember giving a talk to the other students, and I actually said, "I wish I could speak to that same teacher now and show them how stupid I am now".

Narrator:

Michelle has already commenced an online masters course and hopes to one day teach other students with disabilities.

Michelle Stevens:

What ever you do, do not believe people who say you can't do it, you can succeed, as I said quite a few times before, you can succeed and if you put the work in La Trobe will stop at nothing to get the work out of you and to make you succeed.

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