Asperger’s sufferer Rachel to graduate

Rachel Carlisle
Rachel Carlisle

RACHEL Carlisle, from Banbridge, graduated from Queen’s on Thursday having overcome the challenges of Asperger’s syndrome and ill health.

Graduating with a 2:1 in Zoology, Rachel was able to rely on the help of the University’s Disability Services department.

She said, “I came to Queen’s in 2006 and settled in well to University life. The first year of my course went perfectly, but at the beginning of my second year I collapsed and was forced to take the year out, due to ill health.

“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 very understanding of my circumstances and they worked closely with Disability Services at Queen’s to provide invaluable support and ensure I had every opportunity to complete my degree.

“I was able to return to my studies on a part-time basis and the University put in place arrangements to accommodate my own specific needs. These included note takers, a study skills advisor, and a specially-trained Asperger’s Syndrome support worker. 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.

“I can honestly say that 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 today. I hope that my story will inspire other would-be students with disabilities or ill health to follow their dreams and come to Queen’s. The support available here is first-class and it has allowed me to enjoy a much fuller student experience than I could have imagined.”

Linda Maguire, Head of Disability Services at Queen’s, said, “Over 1,350 students with a wide range of 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 for disabled students.

“Each student who discloses a disability is provided with the opportunity to discuss their individual needs with a Disability Officer to ensure that the support they receive is tailored to meet their individual needs. This enables them to have an equitable experience on their chosen course and all aspects of university life.

“We are delighted to have been able to support Rachel during her time at Queen’s and everyone who worked with her is proud to see her graduate today.”