ACU alumni Ranjesh Prakesh has proved that his vision impairment is no barrier to achieving an international degree, travelling Australia and advocating for the rights of people with a disability.
For the majority of his life, Ranjesh has been vision impaired. He struggled to see from a young age and lost vision completely in his left eye as a child, following an operation. His right eye deteriorated over time and now all he sees is a blur.
After completing his Diploma in Office Administration in 2012 the Fijian resident applied for an Australia Awards Scholarship after a family member read about it in a newspaper.
“I did not think that I would receive the scholarship so I applied and forgot about it. In late 2012 I received a call, and trust me when I say that it was the best phone call I ever received”.
In 2013 Ranjesh began studying a Diploma in Liberal Studies before beginning his Bachelor of International Development Studies at Australian Catholic University in Melbourne.
Culture shock hit hard and at first he wasn’t sure if he was capable of living and studying in Australia. While he says he faced many difficulties, he knew the opportunity to study in Australia was an incredible one so he persevered.
During his studies ACU’s Disability Services were really helpful in supporting Ranjesh and while he says his first semester was challenging, the second was “spectacular”.
“All the lecturers and disability staff were really inclusive and accommodating and I think that is one of the reasons I went so well in my degree.”
ACU is committed to promoting access and equity for students with disabilities or chronic health conditions, so that they can participate fully in university life. Disability Services can help students devise a plan to manage their study, communicate students’ needs to their lecturers, assist with exam adjustments, provide access to self-advocacy resources and more.
Earlier this year, Ranjesh was inducted as a Member of the Golden Key International Honour Society and received an Executive Dean’s commendation for his high GPA. He says studying in Australia was a completely different environment to what he had experienced back home in Fiji. Not only did he feel lucky to have been able to complete his studies with the aide of the Australia Awards Scholarship, but he was also able to get the support he needed from ACU’s Disability Services.
“[In Fiji] I had to fight for my rights and I was swimming against the current. My university had no disability department and [people with a disability] have to prove that they are capable. In Australia it is an enabling environment and I didn’t have to go that extra mile that was required of me back at home and I could put all my energy into studying.”
Ranjesh is determined to make a difference and advocate for people with a disability and his degree will help him do that. In the short term he plans to devote his energy to helping people in the disability sector and enabling people with a disability to realise their true potential.
“I would love to contribute in some way to the disability sector. In the long term, studying in Australia has really changed my perception of what I am capable of. I have developed a particular interest in academia and given the opportunity in the future to do my Masters or my PHD, I would jump at that chance.”
To learn more about ACU Disability Services click here or for Business programs at ACU visit the course browser.