5 December 2007

One person who will have particular reason to be proud at The University of Queensland Ipswich campus graduation ceremonies on Monday, December 10, is Faculty of Arts student, Sheree Dyson, who was diagnosed with autism as a child and thought she would never attend a normal school, much less university.

For the first time, the UQ Ipswich campus will host three end-of-year graduation ceremonies to cater for its increasing student population.

The ceremonies will be held at the Ipswich Civic Hall on Monday, December 10, for 285 graduands spanning the five faculties of Arts; Business, Economics and Law; Engineering and Physical Architecture; Health Sciences; and Social and Behavioural Sciences.

“I attended a school for children with autism but after two years they told my parents that there wasn’t anything left they could teach me,” Ms Dyson said.

“So my parents sent me to a regular pre-school, then primary school and I ended up graduating from Ipswich State High."

Ms Dyson was completing a qualification at TAFE when one of her lecturers told her she had the ability to succeed at university study. She enrolled in the Bachelor of Contemporary Studies at UQ Ipswich in 2005.

“My disorder meant that I did have difficulties with things like prioritising, focusing and expressing ideas verbally but I worked hard and enjoyed my program, particularly my courses in philosophy and music cultures,” she said.

During her time at UQ Ipswich, Ms Dyson has been an active participant in student life, getting involved with UQ Union activities, performing with her guitar during UQ Diversity Week and participating in the campus race known as the "Challinor Chase".

“During my time here (at UQ Ipswich), I’ve found that I’m more willing to try things and to put myself out there," she said.

“I’d like to say to people that you shouldn’t let anything hold you back. Whether you have a disability or not, you can find the confidence and courage to pursue your dreams, whether it’s university or something else.”

Professor Alan Rix, Pro-Vice-Chancellor Ipswich, said a growing number of graduands and diversity of student programs warranted the need for three separate ceremonies, to allow graduands and their families and University staff an opportunity to join together in celebration.

“These ceremonies are a vital acknowledgment of the accomplishments of our students,” he said.

Each of the graduation ceremonies will be attended by a high-profile member of the Ipswich community who will act as guest speaker.

Tom Edwards, Chair and Managing Director of R T Edwards – a family company founded in Ipswich 76 years ago – will be guest speaker for the Faculty of Business Economics and Law ceremony, which commences at 1pm.

Tom Yates, Executive Officer for the Ipswich Hospital Foundation, will be guest speaker for the Health Sciences; Arts; and Engineering, Physical Sciences & Architecture ceremony, which commences at 3.30pm.

The Honourable Dr David Hamill, former Treasurer of Queensland, will be guest speaker for the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences ceremony, which commences at 6pm.

Student valedictorians for the ceremonies are Emma Duff (1pm); Taryn Stieger (3.30pm); and Danielle Jansen (6pm).

The Ipswich Civic Hall is on the corner of Limestone and Nicholas streets, Ipswich.

Media inquiries: Ipswich Marketing & Development Manager, Sarah Schindeler, (3381 1068 or 0421 587 278).