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Dream comes true for Louisa


Brigid Veale
29 May 2008
“Never give up on a dream, even if some aspects of that dream may be hard to achieve.”

That’s the advice from Louisa Salmon, who has overcome severe physical disabilities to successfully complete a Bachelor of Psychology (Honours) degree. She will join more than 180 graduands at Southern Cross University’s Coffs Harbour graduation ceremony on Saturday.

“I’m very excited and proud to be graduating after six years,” she said. “I began university as a scared little girl, but I hope I am graduating as a professionally-minded individual, ready to take on the next set of challenges life throws at me. I truly do love psychology.

“I could not have done it without the support of family, friends, wonderful lecturers as well as the various disability liaison officers that have been employed at SCU over the years.”

Louisa, who has cerebral palsy and is confined to a wheelchair, was provided with an academic assistant who helped her with the large amounts of reading and to communicate with her colleagues.

“The students in my class accepted me as a colleague and people would seek my advice about problems with uni work,” she said. “Being with people I could have intellectual conversations with was amazing. I have made some of my greatest friends at university. It’s nice to know people who can see past my wheelchair and who can know me as a person.”

Louisa is now planning to continue her studies with a PhD.

“For me, although I’m scared about the prospects of more study, academia is more practical than clinical psychology, or the type of jobs I’m now qualified to do. It’s a big step up from Honours, and such a career is not without its physical barriers to negotiate, particularly for somebody with a speech impediment, but I feel excited about it,” she said.

“There is more than one way to do something, so anyone can achieve great things if they really want to.”

Louisa will be one of more than 180 graduands who will receive awards in areas including business, tourism, psychology, nursing, information technology, arts and social sciences and education at the ceremony on Saturday. The graduation, starting at 9.30am, is expected to attract more than 800 family and friends – many of them coming from out of town for the event.

The awards will be presented by the Southern Cross University Chancellor, the Honourable John Dowd AO QC.

Mr Warren Mundine, the chief executive officer of NTSCORP Ltd and an advocate for Indigenous people, will be giving the occasional address. Mr Mundine is the former national president of the Australian Labor Party and has served on numerous national, state and local boards. He is closely involved with the work of Southern Cross University’s Gnibi College of Indigenous Australian Peoples and is a member of the Southern Cross University Foundation board.

The ceremony will include the presentation of two University medals and a number of prizes for academic achievement.

The awards will be presented to graduands from the:

Faculty of Arts and Sciences
School of Arts and Social Sciences
School of Education
School of Health and Human Sciences (including psychology and nursing)

Faculty of Business and Law
Graduate College and Management
School of Commerce and Management
School of Law and Justice
School of Tourism and Hospitality Management

The ceremony starts at 9.30am.

Photo: Louisa Salmon tries on her academic gown and trencher in preparation for Saturday's graduation.