Bursary sets Caitlin up for success

07 April 2020

For Caitlin Jung, a Vision Australia Further Education Bursary has removed a number of challenges that come with studying at university with low vision.

Twenty year-old Caitlin is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Pharmacy at the University of Canberra and is currently in her second year of study.

“I actually just applied for [the bursary] thinking that I’d give it a go,” Caitlin said.

“I wasn’t completely convinced that I might get anything but it was through my university that I found out about it and I followed the link that they’d given me, read up about it and just gave it a go. “

Caitlin has retinitis pigmentosa, an inherited condition that causes the gradual degeneration of cells in the retina, the part of the eye that is sensitive to light.

She also has astigmatism which means that the cornea in her eye is not completely curved. This results in blurred vision.

“The retinitis pigmentosa mainly affects me at night so I have really reduced reaction time and reduced vision. I don’t get enough light in my eyes to be able to see things,” she said.

“Because of the astigmatism I wear glasses so I struggle with reading from a textbook or reading a word document on a laptop if it gets too small.”

Caitlin in her blue pharmacy uniform facing the camera
Caption: Caitlin has benefited from a Vision Australia Further Education Bursary.

The bursary supplied Caitlin with a laptop, headphones, a large screen monitor with desk top clamp, the software ZoomText and a large print keyboard.

“The headphones have been a lifesaver. So has the laptop with the flip screen. It’s good being able to turn it in to tablet and then I can write on it. Taking notes is ten times easier.

“Because of my retinitis pigmentosa I get really bad eye fatigue and I am always having to have a break and step away from the screens. Thus, the big monitor has allowed me to work longer (having everything enlarged and clear.) Plus the enlarged keyboard I use with the monitor has also helped too.”

Caitlin has a clear idea of what she wants to do with her life after she graduates.

“I would like to move into practising in a pharmacy. I would love to go into GP pharmacy patient counselling. That’s more one on one with the patients. Being able to have a laptop to take notes with and then being able to review it at night with the big monitor will help.”

Caitlin now has what she needs to achieve her goals. She had some advice for new students who are blind or have low vision.

“A lot of the universities have Inclusion Services. I would 100 per cent recommend going in and talking to them because they’ve been amazing. They’ve been able to move my exams into different rooms and allow them to be only done at certain times. I get certain contrast paper and text size. I can get extensions on exams if I’m stressed or anything like that. They’ve been really great.”

The Vision Australia Further Education Bursary program has supported more than 400 students to achieve their dreams of tertiary study since 1996. To find out more about it, follow this link.