7 July 2019
Going to university with a disability can be extremely daunting, but ARU gave me all the support that I needed to allow me to achieve my best, despite having a disability.
I was diagnosed at 14 with a Chronic Invisible illness called Adrenal Insufficiency (it’s pretty rare so I doubt you’ll have heard of it) which causes me to have a lot of tiredness, pain and have a weakened immune system. I always knew that going to university would be a challenge, and I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to cope with all the changes and have the support that I needed. Having an invisible disability also brings its own challenges as it is not obvious to people that this is something that you have, and sometimes people can find it quite uncomfortable when you tell them about your disability and don’t know what to ask.
Since coming to university, having a disability has not held me back, in fact, I think it’s made me stronger. My tutors and lecturers are really understanding and provide me with the support I need during lectures, and during assessment period, which can sometimes get a little stressful! They are always happy to spend extra time with me if I have missed lectures and need help to catch up, or if I am feeling overwhelmed and need some extra support. I also received the help I needed in exams, which meant that it was a much less stressful experience and I could concentrate on the exam rather than worrying about how my disability may hold me back.
During my first year at university, I saw an employer event advertised for students with a disability, and I was nervous but I pushed myself forward to attend. This event completely changed my perspective on having a disability and made me see my disability as a positive rather than a negative. This has since continued, and having such a flexible timetable at university has allowed me to properly schedule my time, so that I do not get too tired and I can make sure that I complete my work to the best of my ability. Having a doctor’s surgery on campus in Cambridge makes it so much easier if I’m not feeling well and need to see a doctor too.
Within ARU, being inclusive is such a big part of who we are that lecturers and leaders value the input from every single student, and this makes me feel completely empowered to be who I am. I know I would still be struggling with my disability, rather than seeing it as a positive situation which makes me unique, had I not come to ARU and met such an inclusive and welcoming community of people, both students and staff.
I am extremely grateful for the support I have received throughout my time at ARU, and I am so happy that coming here has completely changed my perspective on having a disability and made me feel so empowered.