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Students in Focus

UnCover Documentary: Navigating a pathway to success

University of Canberra psychology student Tim Rees is no ordinary UC student.

His student journey as a vision-impaired member of the UC community has been one of continuous growth – a result of knowing what he needed to succeed and seeking the appropriate support to achieve that success.

Tim’s story is one of overcoming challenges, embracing opportunities and gaining perspective on his value and worth.

His journey to university was neither easy nor straightforward.

Tim’s school days started out like most others, tackling life and sport with great gusto, but that soon changed when he lost his sight at just nine years old.

At the time, he was a student at Sacred Heart Central School in Cootamundra, where he completed his primary and secondary school years. Tim then went on to complete his college years at Hennessy Catholic College – it was here, that he truly felt he belonged, and was accepted by his peers.

Mrs Jessica McInerney was the teacher responsible for Tim’s integration into Hennessy, a time he refers to as ‘the best of his schooling years’, and he attributes his success at University to the life skills and encouragement he received from the school.

“For me, it is essential that all our students at Hennessy have a sense of belonging and know that they matter. So, when I heard that Tim was going to join us, I went about making sure that there was not one aspect of school life that he would miss out on. This even meant that as a year group we would play goalball, and everyone embraced the fun of learning a new sport that Tim was a master at.

“I was inspired by Tim and his gentle nature, and how he managed to make everyone feel comfortable and part of his world.

“In fact, when he got his university offer, I actually cried, because I was so very proud of him.”

Tim has navigated his student journey with a determination that has, in many instances, set him apart from others – but not as a result of his vision impairment. Rather, it has been his courageous and consistent seeking of support, help and advice when he needed it.

Working with UC’s Inclusion and Engagement team, Tim articulated his needs and the University went about looking at solutions that would help set him up for success, from introducing assistive devices and support, to additional one-on-one tutoring and other support services. Tim is about to embark on his final semester and achieve the satisfaction of graduating from university, well positioned to succeed in the next step of his career path.

This documentary is a window into Tim’s world, and illustrative of his attitude towards life, one of perseverance and resilience.

With thanks to Tim Rees, Kristen Rees, Scott Roberts, Jessica McInerney, Tracy Cullen, Tyan Taylor, Taiyo Konda, Koome Muthomi, Tom Arthur, James Neill, Sally Kelty and the UCFitX team for their contribution to this documentary.

Video by John Masiello

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