Risha keeps an eye on the prize - Royal Institute for Deaf & Blind Children

Risha keeps an eye on the prize

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Risha Degamia is kicking academic goals. She is the winner of the 2018 RIDBC Garfield and Norma Barwick Medal and ClearaSound Prize, courtesy of her academic performance. Here, she talks to us about going a step further in the Higher School Certificate (HSC) and what’s next..

Of her achievement, Risha says it was not only recognition of her own achievements, but recognition of the people who supported her as well.

“It’s been an amazing experience and I am incredibly grateful for the support RIDBC offered me. I am usually one who avoids the spotlight, especially if it is to do with my hearing loss, but it was quite special to be rewarded for my academic achievements.”

The spotlight wasn’t avoided at the RIDBC AGM in May, where Risha accepted two awards:

  1. Garfield and Norma Barwick Medal, for the most outstanding performance in the HSC by any student receiving RIDBC School Support.
  2. ClearaSound Prize, for outstanding achievement in the HSC by any student with a hearing impairment receiving RIDBC School Support.

ClearaSound General Manager, Rod Power, was on hand to present Risha with her prize in front of a room full of RIDBC staff, Board members and distinguished guests. She recalls “Meeting many of the RIDBC staff on the awards night was amazing – they were all so proud of me, even though we hadn’t met before”.

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At the age of six a viral infection resulted in Risha experiencing hearing loss in both ears, something that has never impacted her success. She says that Anne Evans, RIDBC School Support Teacher, was critical to that success, “Anne visited me at school weekly. During our meetings, if I had any important assignments or upcoming tests, we would talk through them and Anne would provide advice and encouragement.”

Never one to shy away from a challenge, when it came time to select a pathway for her HSC studies, Risha completed the intensive International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme.

An alternative to the traditional HSC model, it is academically rigorous; challenging; focuses on personal development; and due to a global focus is highly regarded internationally. At the time this story was written there were 192 schools in Australia, 31 of which are in NSW, that offer the IB Programme. St Andrew’s Cathedral School, where Risha attended, is one such school.

“The traditional HSC model means you pick subjects towards your desired job and I didn’t know what that was yet – I was interested in arts, sciences and social media, so I liked that the IB Programme gave me the option to study a diverse mix of subjects, such as Psychology, to help me discover where my interests lie,” she explains.

Risha’s reward for effort is clear – she was awarded an ATAR of 98.25.

A current student at The University of Sydney studying a double degree in Neuroscience and Cultural Studies, she hopes this will lead to a career that has a positive impact on individuals and communities.

Risha wears hearing aids. Her message for other students who are deaf or have hearing loss is that ‘you can succeed too’. From Risha “With hearing loss, it’s important to remember to give yourself breaks – it’s tiring focusing on listening all day, but there is no reason you can’t do the [IB] program. You will do well if you focus on your priorities, work according to the deadlines, and treat yourself after any accomplishment!”

We look forward to seeing what the future holds for this highly successful teenager.

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