Belfast Telegraph

Monday 1 September 2014

Top student with degree of inspiration

Rachel Carlisle, from Banbridge, will graduate from Queen’s today having overcome the challenges of Asperger’s syndrome and ill health.

Rachel started Queen’s in 2006 but at the beginning of her second year she collapsed and was forced to take the year out, due to ill health. She explained: “While I was able to return the following year, full-time study proved difficult as my health was still poor. Thankfully, the School of Biological Sciences were understanding of my circumstances and they worked with Disability Services at Queen’s to provide invaluable support and ensure I had every opportunity to complete my degree.”

She was able to return to her studies on a part-time basis and the university put in place arrangements including note takers, a study skills adviser and a specially-trained Asperger’s Syndrome support worker.

Rachel explained: “I was able to record lectures on a dictaphone when I wasn’t able to take notes and was given extra time to submit assignments during periods of illness.

“Without the support of the School and Disability Services, I would not have been able to continue with my studies, and I wouldn’t be looking forward to graduating.

“I hope my story will inspire other would-be students with ill health to follow their dreams and come to Queen’s.”

Linda Maguire, head of Disability Services at Queen’s, said: “Over 1,350 students with disabilities currently study at Queen’s. Disability Services works closely with staff across the University to create an inclusive environment which widens participation and learning opportunities”.

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