Attending University with an Intellectual Disability

Attending University with an Intellectual Disability

By Mamie Rose

My name is Mamie Rose, and I live with an intellectual impairment called Williams Syndrome. One day, it is my dream to work in the tourism industry, so since leaving high school, I have been working towards gaining some qualifications in Tourism. 

I recently enrolled at university to study tourism, which I had always wanted to do but didn’t always think would be possible for me.  I was so excited to start classes and make some new friends. 

I had a good feeling about Auckland University of Technology (AUT) the moment I stepped on campus. I knew this was a place where I would find a sense of community and be in a safe and comfortable environment where I would thrive to the best of my abilities. 

One of my goals when going to university was making friends that I could contact in the future and talk about our experience at university and where I felt accepted as being Māori disabled woman. 

So far, I have made some wonderful friends who accept me as I am and are very supportive and helpful with my studies. 

My lecturers and tutors have been very understanding and accommodating of my learning needs during classes, which I’m not used to. In the past, I have had teachers that didn’t understand my learning style or disability, which meant I couldn’t succeed. 

At AUT, my teachers want me to succeed and understand the content of the classes, so they go the extra mile to ensure I am getting the most out of the course. I have one class on Wednesdays at eight o’clock in the morning that I love because my tutor takes the time to chat with me, which makes me feel seen and gives me a lot of joy early in the morning. 

Because of my disability, I can access some learning support to help me keep on top of things and ensure I get any extra support to succeed. They have helped me with my timetable and provided me with the PowerPoint slides and content from my classes to help me understand the lecture better, and if I have any questions, they come back with good answers. 

As a result of this fantastic support from my teachers and AUT, I am doing well with my grades and surprising myself with how much easier it is to succeed when you feel fully supported by the people around you. 

My advice to anyone who wants to go to university is to stop limiting yourself because someone said you couldn’t do it. I went through a time where my teacher told me that I couldn’t go to university because I wouldn’t understand the workload and would get quite tired and would fall behind. I wasn’t as confident as I am now, and I had low self-esteem, so I just believed what she had said. I’m glad I changed my mind because now that I have decided to go to university, I’m having a great time and am so glad that I didn’t let the naysayers win in the end.

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