Despite dealing with dysgraphia, William has recently graduated with two degrees and a job at Deloitte.
If you put William in an exam, he would struggle to write eight words, but he has recently graduated with two degrees and a job at a top-tier professional services firm Deloitte.
As if completing the Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Commerce degrees isn’t challenging enough, William has overcome the learning difficulty of dysgraphia, which makes handwriting virtually impossible. Thankfully, he can type.
"I started using a computer when I was quite young and that helped, but it didn’t solve everything. It wasn’t until year 13 that I started to do quite well," William says.
At University, William finally started to realise his academic potential, thanks, in large part to ongoing support from Student Disability Services.
With the assistance of the Student Disability Services team, including Disability Adviser Lynda Reilly, a reader-writer was organised for tests.
This was critical, especially in subjects requiring written calculations, such as finance.
I found it important to have someone with me throughout my university journey, in contrast with the fact that every six months I would get new lecturers.
Lynda and her team also worked with lecturers on developing strategies to accommodate William’s dysgraphia, so William could achieve to his potential.
William, who moved to Auckland from Christchurch to study, appreciated having someone who was familiar with his specific challenges, as well as the continuity of the relationship.
"I found it important to have someone with me throughout my university journey, in contrast with the fact that every six months I would get new lecturers," William says.
Despite his dysgraphia, William was a competent cellist and originally came to Auckland to study for a Bachelor of Music.
However, a year and a half in, due to unforeseen circumstances he had to change direction and embark on a new course of study. He drew on his interest in finance and strength in maths, and opted to pursue a Bachelor of Commerce in finance and commercial law while completing a Bachelor
of Arts majoring in music.
“I didn’t want to waste the papers I had done in the first year-and-a-half of study,” he says.
If I talk through a topic with someone, I'm going to learn so much more than if I sit there and listen to a lecture on it, even though it's the same stuff. As
soon as they can tie in what I understand, and then suddenly I've learned so much more than just listening to it.
In 2020, Covid-19 created a particularly difficult time for William who found studying online isolating. He has excelled in oral skills, such as public speaking and finds he learns, in part, through talking to lecturers.
"If I talk through a topic with someone, I'm going to learn so much more than if I sit there and listen to a lecture on it, even though it's the same stuff. As soon as they can tie in what I understand, and then suddenly I've learned so much more than just listening to it."
“I know that's a bit perverse but that was what made the lockdown so much harder for me.”
While it was challenging, he managed online exams without a reader and writer, but some grades were below his usual levels.
However, William did get through a rigorous series of tests and interviews to land a graduate role at Deloitte in customer strategy and applied design.
Thanks to the digital nature of business there, his dysgraphia is no longer an issue, and he won’t need further accommodations.
In his own time, William has renovated a villa in Grey Lynn, runs Wilco Jewels (an online antique jewellery business), been active in the Young Nats and worked on a Hauraki Gulf conservation project.
He is grateful to Lynda and the team at Student Disability Services, saying: “When you have the right support structures in place, you know that impediments don’t need to stop you.”
A range of support is available for students with disabilities at the University. You must register with Student Disability Services to access support. You can reach out to the team on email@example.com