"If you want
get it. Most
help unless they
really know you
need it. Don’t
let them put
you on the back
Joëlle Arvisais admits to being one of the “lucky ones.” She says she sailed
through the transition from high school to post-secondary education without
encountering any problems related to being a student with a physical
disability. She recently obtained her bachelor’s degree in Social Work from
UQAM (Université du Québec à Montréal), and is currently enjoying a
career in the field.
Despite not facing any major disability-related transition problems, Joëlle does
admit her general lack of preparation for post-secondary school affected her
first months of higher education. After rushing into a program and finding she
wasn’t enjoying it, Joëlle dropped out.
Finally, after some time away from school and some soul-searching, Joëlle
discovered her true interests. As a result, she enrolled in a new program
- social work - at the Université de Québec à Montréal. Now armed with
different goals and a better sense of her career ambitions, she began to
succeed at university. In her new program, she made use of the Disabled
Student Services Office’s computers, successfully asked for changes in a
classroom that was initially inaccessible, and got to know the other students.
Joëlle considers these changes in her approach and attitude to her education
to have been crucial in finding ultimate success.
After graduation, Joëlle went to work at a shelter for abused women. She
says she works with women and children every day, helping to create positive
changes in their lives. She also sits on a board for the Second Stage Housing
Project for abused women. The project places abused women and children in
supervised apartments. She has also been a leader in the provincial disability
community, helping ensure positive change for disabled students by sitting
on the board of the Quebec Association For Post-Secondary Students with
Joëlle says students interested in post-secondary education should make sure
they look at all possible areas of study, and get to know their own interests,
needs and ambitions. She also advises students to talk to teachers, career
counselors and program directors before making any firm decisions about an
academic program. Joëlle thinks it is important to foresee potential problems
– so as not to get caught off guard – by talking to other students about any
challenges they had to face, and by developing a plan of action well before
beginning a course of study.