In the words of UNICEF, “disability is one of the most serious barriers to education around the globe”.
Students with disabilities are routinely hampered by a failure to incorporate their needs into education services, despite the fact that they just want the same opportunities as their peers.
But for wheelchair users Lee Jian Sheng and Shemalatha Nadaraja, inclusivity and equal opportunities have been key to their success—graduating with honours from Quest International University (QIU)’s Bachelor of Computer Science (Hons) programme and hitting the ground running in their careers.
Jian Sheng, 23, and Shemalatha, 26, were among more than 750 graduates who received their scrolls at QIU’s 6th Convocation here recently. The former is now a software engineer, while the latter is a web developer.
Both agree that inclusivity has given them a chance to showcase their talent and pursue their passion.
“I was able to complete my studies and achieved my lifelong goal of getting a proper job. I never would have thought that I would come this far in the past. But it did! So, if I can do it, you can too,” said Jian Sheng.
“My mobility relies on electrically-operated devices. If an elevator malfunctions, there’s a chance that I could miss a class. Thankfully, my friends and lecturers were incredibly understanding and have always helped me through.
“My friends would always share the notes of the lessons I missed on that day to ensure I finished them. They would also keep me company whenever I needed to go across the street or when I needed help with the facilities. I’m deeply indebted to my friends and coursemates for their support.”
As for Shemalatha, she knew the inherent challenges that someone in her situation would face and accepted that this was the hand that she was dealt.
“I accepted and embraced the way I am. And I understood that the obstacles that came my way were just a part of the journey,” she said.
“I owe so much to my family and friends for being my pillars of support, and I’m so grateful because QIU catered to my needs perfectly. I felt safe and comfortable with the understanding of the lecturers and students who assisted me throughout my journey, creating unforgettable memories along the way. “University life is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I have the connections and knowledge that prepared me for something I always wanted.”
With their scrolls in hand and a promising career in their fields of choice, a bright future lies ahead for both Computer Science graduates. They have a platform to explore their talent and passion for technology, boosted by the skills in their arsenal.
“I learned so many lessons during my internship and without it, I may have never gotten a job. Computer science and technology never cease to amaze me, for it is continuously evolving and changing which means there’s always one more thing to learn,” said Jian Sheng.
Echoing her coursemate, Shemalatha said she was incredibly grateful to get a full-time job right after finishing her internship.
“During my internship, my skills were minimal, to say the least. I was willing to learn new things, work in teams, learn to accept criticism, improve my performances step by step, and most importantly, I delivered all the projects assigned to me, right on time,” she said.
“I don’t see myself as special. I want to be as genuine as possible. I don’t want my achievements to be exaggerated because I’m not inspirational. I’m just like you. I studied like you. I work like you. Maybe I can’t do some things like everybody else but there’ll be some other way that I can do it. You’ll only know once you give me a chance.”
by Gisele Soo