Being born with a rare eye condition has created many barriers in Amanda Bell’s life, but with the support of SIT2LRN and some determined studying, she’s now looking forward to starting a new career.
Amanda was born with aniridia in both eyes, a rare disease that creates challenges in every aspect of her life, particularly around not being able to read small lettering.
Determined not to let it prevent her from living a full life, Amanda was accepted to study law in Christchurch, but after consideration it was felt the level of reading required might damage her eyesight further.
“They asked me if I had another passion and I told them I had a love of animals – so they suggested doing the New Zealand Certificate in Animal Care.”
Amanda thought she would have to move Invercargill, which would create more challenges to overcome, so was thrilled to learn she could study remotely through SIT2LRN.
Undertaking the study provided obvious challenges because it was still hard for her to see the full screen of the questions or what she was writing because she had to go back and forth to see what she had written.
“Even though I had an amazing support person to help me, it took a lot of time to get everything right.
“However I was very determined to overcome my eye condition and pass my assessments with A-plus marks.”
Amanda has been full of praise for SIT2LRN’s approach and attitude to her disability.
“It was amazing to receive the support that I had from the SIT2LRN disability services. They copied all of the study guides for me on to A3 paper and sent them to Christchurch. This was very helpful and appreciated because it was easier to read and study it properly rather than on the computer, missing a lot of important information for my assignments,” she said.
“I would encourage any disabled person studying with SIT2LRN to take advantage of the support from the disability services.”
Her facilitators, Jeanine and Stan McDonald, were encouraging and helpful too, she said.
“I achieved great results and graduated, which I am immensely proud of.”
Amanda has had pets all of her life and was keen to work with them in some way.
“I studied the animal care course to help me to gain new skills, and enhance the ones I already had. Also, I learnt a great deal in the course about a range of subjects, including things like animal behaviour, health, and first aid.”
She also has a passion and interest for the care and ethical treatment of animals, and found the study on animal laws and bylaws fascinating.
“I would like to change New Zealand laws for the treatment of all animals and be an advocate for animals.”
She’s now pursuing her dream of working with animals and has set up a business, Wagging Tails Gems, that offers pet sitting and walking, and other animal-related services. But she also has dreams of working in a “doggy day care centre” or as a biosecurity dog handler.
She’s also keen to encourage other visually impaired people to take advantage of the opportunities that SIT2LRN offers, saying everybody was so helpful.
“The best advice I can give to people is to pursue something that ignites passion in their heart, and grab hold of every opportunity that comes their way.”