TAFE SA Graduate Kelly McLean’s confidence and determination continually inspired her lecturers during her time at TAFE SA.
Born with a rare neuromuscular condition and being wheelchair-bound seems to have only empowered this inspiring student who has recently completed studies in Disability Work and Youth Work through external studies.
This young woman, who is determined to leave ‘a mark on the world’ says she wants to challenge any prevailing thoughts that people with disabilities are limited, lack value or cannot contribute to society.
“I desire to show people with and without disabilities that people with a disability can succeed at a mainstream school, can live independently, can successfully transition to TAFE SA and university, can have an active social life, can participate in paid employment and much more,” promises Kelly.
“Don’t believe me? Well, all I can say is ‘take a seat and watch me!’”
After completing university studies and starting her first job, Kelly turned to TAFE SA to start studies in an area she was particularly drawn to- disability work. At this point, despite living with a disability since birth, Kelly had limited interaction with others with a disability or within the sector. Slowly she integrated into the ‘family’ of Muscular Dystrophy SA (MDSA), initially as a client, then as a volunteer and eventually as a staff member.
“I believe the fact that I was completing a Certificate IV in Disability Work at TAFE SA contributed to my appointment to a position at Muscular Dystrophy SA,” said Kelly.
“This job gave my study more purpose and ignited a passion in disability work.”
While she was participating in the Federal Government program ‘Leaders for Tomorrow’, Kelly was challenged to define her interests, goals and future direction. At the time, she was especially enjoying interaction with younger clients through MDSA programs like Camp Capacity and MD Mafia, so studying the Diploma of Youth Work seemed like an obvious choice.
“Youth are often at that critical point in their lives where the right support, attention and direction can empower them and make a massive difference to their future,” said Kelly.
“I had things to say; advice and support to offer; and lived experience to share with young people going through experiences similar to my own.
After studying at both TAFE SA and university level, I appreciate TAFE SA’s practical approach. The theory given in the external workbooks is straightforward, offers practical examples and is easily applied in the workplace.”
Kelly says that her TAFE SA studies increased her confidence, improved her communication skills and gave her a broader knowledge base into specific areas of concern for clients. As a student, Kelly McLean has left her mark on TAFE SA and we look forward to seeing the difference she makes to the lives of those she continues to influence.
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Image: TAFE SA Graduate and Muscular Dystrophy SA employee Kelly McLean working at a recent fundraising stall