Thursday, May 10, 2012

Boundary pusher completes Masters degree after being told uni dream was "pure fantasy"

Milestones are always an excuse to celebrate. They also give you opportunities to reflect and ponder the path that your life has taken and today was no different.

Today was a pretty special day as I graduated with a Masters degree from Monash University. While for most people this is a truly acceptable and normal rite of passage, for me going to university was never an option.

Right from my childhood I was told that I would not be going to university and this narrative continued right though high school. It was during my final year of school that I made the mistake of admitting to the “guidance councillor” that I wanted to attend university because I wanted to broadening my horizons and learn about what was happening around me.

Her response to this was to tell me that “You’ll never get into university” and such a dream was pure fantasy. But something inside of me told me that this was an invitation to walk away and do exactly the opposite.

It was like she had said NO to the wrong person because from that moment I knew that I was going work towards the opportunity to learn about politics, literature and everything about the world that I lived in. 

But as luck would have it, the educational establishment that I attended felt the need to fiddle with my final year enrolment so that, despite the hard work, it rendered my matriculation null and void.

However, by sheer hard work and tenacity, the university entrance requirements were soon met (via secretarial and art school) but when it was time to actually apply I became aware of one final challenge. The Parental Unit would never support this idea.

If they knew, they would have entered into a negative campaign in an attempt to plant the seeds of doubt that could kill any dream to gain an education.

I wasn't going to let this happen.

This meant that my uni application had to be submitted in top secret. The first they heard about it was from the massive yell fest that occurred when the offer of a place arrived.

According to their logic I wouldn’t have been admitted or let alone been able to pass, for the simple reason that disabled people don’t do well at university.


They felt that my future lay in more vocational pursuits or doing manual labour such as plucking dead chickens or cleaning toilets, which is ironic but we won’t go there.

But luckily once they got used to the idea, they were wonderfully supportive and I couldn't have done it without them.

After attending my graduation this evening, a Michael Jordan quote comes to mind, 'If you accept the expectations of others, especially the negative ones then you will never change the outcome'. Just says it all really!!

I would like to dedicate this blog to my Maman and Papa who, while being the original doubters, gave me the love of learning as well as a passion for ideas and books in the first place. Also I thank them for their support and patience; I couldn't have done it without them.


  1. this is the most wonderful chapter yet from a truly amazing person... I am one very very proud godfather!!

    Mark Dunford, Bristol, GB

  2. This has truly touched me Gabrielle. So so proud of you! Girl powers are limitless!


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