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Scholarship Recipient #1: Grace Jarrott

Scholarship Recipient #1: Grace Jarrott

See Through My Eyes has given four deserving and inspiring university students a scholarship to assist in their education. We received applications from across the country, all who shared their stories of persistence and passion. It was a difficult decision to choose only four and we are looking forward to our next round later this year.

The first scholarship recipient is Grace Jarrott from Townsville, QLD. Grace is studying a Bachelor of Social Work at James Cook University and is affected by Stargardt’s Disease.

What is your vision condition and how does it affect your life?

I was diagnosed with Stargardt’s Disease in 2014 at age 21.  I am losing my central vision gradually and the disease has left me legally blind.

Stargardt’s has affected every area of my life.  Simple things that I used to be able to do before are the most frustrating, like reading a menu or a sign on the footpath.  It is extremely difficult for me to recognise people, and I often feel embarrassed when someone says hello and I have no idea who they are. Having to sell my car and give my licence up was by far the most devastating thing I have ever had to do. Public transport is not great here in North Queensland and I often have to rely on friends and family to take me where I need to go.  I am extremely lucky to have the most amazing family and friends who never hesitate to help me when I need it.  ]

Why did you choose to study Social Work?

I knew all my life I wanted to help people, but I struggled to find exactly what I wanted to do.  I picked a social work subject as an elective for my Social Science course at university and I knew from the first lecture I went to that this was the course for me.  I was so happy I had finally found what I wanted to do and I changed courses as soon as I could.  I can work with people to better their lives and give them advice either one on one, in close groups, or communities.  I love that the focus is on looking at situations from all sides which has helped me see the world differently and open my mind to new ways of thinking.

What challenges have you faced whilst studying?

There have been many challenges I have had to overcome while studying.  I hadn’t studied in five years so coming back to it was hard, especially with the added stress of being legally blind.  There is a lot of reading I have to do for all my subjects, and I found very quickly that I wasn’t keeping up.  My eyes were strained when I tried to read and see the lecture power points in class which lead to tension headaches.  I am very lucky that James Cook University offers a service called AccessAbility for people with physical and mental disabilities.  They have found different ways for me to read lecture power points and order my textbooks as e-books so I can listen to readings instead of straining my eyes.  I still get frustrated some days when I can’t do things the same as everyone else or read my textbook from the actual book but I know I will get through it and there will always be people supporting me through my University journey.

What are your goals upon finishing your degree?

The pathways and opportunities in becoming a social worker are endless.  I am particularly interested in working with people who struggle to find jobs because of a physical or mental disability.  I have seen and spoken to many people that have been turned away by employers, myself included, simply because of their disability.  These people have amazing and different skills to offer companies and it is a shame they don’t want to give them a chance. I also want to be an active member in my community to help break down the barriers that separate people with disabilities from the workforce.

What did you use the scholarship for and what difference will this make?

I used my scholarship grant to buy myself an Apple MacBook Pro (laptop) which has some of the best accessibility features for vision impairments.  I haven’t used a laptop in years as I found them too hard to read them with my eyes and preferred a desktop so I could sit as close as possible to the screen.  After researching the MacBook’s and trialling them in store, I was so excited to purchase one.  This laptop has changed my whole university experience.  It feels so good to sit in the library on my laptop like everyone else does and not have to completely strain my eyes to see what I am doing (and not get weird looks from people wondering why I am sitting so close to the screen).  The in-built magnification tool is absolutely amazing and has helped me out with everything I need to read, even the simplest things like reading the time and battery life on the screen.  I cannot believe the difference it has made to my life, and my confidence level towards my studies has skyrocketed.  I cannot thank See Through My Eyes enough for this amazing scholarship.

Thank-you to Grace for sharing her story and goals. We look forward to hearing of your future successes!

If you would like more information on our Scholarship Program and stay up-to-date when applications open, sign up to our newsletter here.

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