Looking for a change of career, musician Ite Lemalu was inspired by a church friend to pursue a postgraduate diploma in media and develop a newfound talent for writing
“I’m a New Zealand-born Samoan, and have lived in Auckland all my life. I’ve been visually impaired since childhood and from the age of three I learned to play the piano by ear. My passions are writing and music. I use these tools to serve my community. For example, I’m a musician for my church in Henderson, West Auckland.
“I decided to study Media, Film and Television because I was inspired by a church friend who had graduated from Auckland with that qualification. She used her skills to promote our youth group’s annual concert. I began to look at returning to university to upskill and for a career transition into media – particularly into writing.
Student Disability Services provided me with support that was crucial to my learning at the University of Auckland. I had a note-taker for each course. This ensured that I could focus on hearing the lecturer without having to look at my laptop and type the whole time.
“I hadn’t considered writing before but, during my time as a church youth leader, I would take down the minutes at our monthly meetings and the team always complimented me on how detailed the notes were.
“At the University of Auckland, Student Disability Services provided me with support that was crucial to my learning. I had a note-taker for each course. This ensured that I could focus on hearing the lecturer without having to look at my laptop and type the whole time.
"I was also given extra time and a computer for examinations. These additional aides were tremendously helpful as I would have struggled to write and focus under pressure due to my visual impairment. I would not have been able to finish the exams on time.
“When my time at the University ended, I job-hunted for several months before being offered my first role as a content writer in July 2018. Having a disability, finding employment was difficult but I’m now doing something I’m passionate about. My time at Auckland University helped me realise that you can do anything you put your heart and mind to.”
Ite has been promoted from content writer for Fale Dojo to media relations manager, where he is inspired by his love of wrestling and the school’s philosophy.
As a member of The Access Alliance, Ite writes blogs and is working with the group on advocating for accessibility legislation.
In 2019, Ite participated in a leadership programme run by Be. Lab, a centre for accessibility and innovation, earning high enough points to be a ‘valedictorian’.
“Doing the Be. programme was the best decision I made – it allowed me the opportunity to learn more about myself as a person with low vision and about others with access needs.
“The courses I studied at the University of Auckland have played a huge part in my goals in wanting to serve the different areas in my community through writing.”
· Learn about support for students with disabilities at disability.auckland.ac.nz