Dedication to studies fuels ambitious para-athlete

13 January 2021

Wheelchair sprinter Aimee Fisher is well on track to achieving her sonography studies and Paralympic prospects after the CQUniversity student was announced an Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) Education Scholarship recipient.

The Bachelor of Medical Sonography student is one of 37 high-performance athletes sharing in more than $100'000 to support education' sport' and life.

Aimee's passion for sport and study have always shared equal priority and importance. Even after a gymnastics accident in 2017 resulted in paralysis from the waist down' the ambitious athlete dedicated herself to becoming a Paralympian and medical sonographer.

"Study and sport complement each other' they offer me the opportunity for personal growth' skill development and establishment of connections'" Aimee explained.

"A conversation with a doctor in the ICU first sparked my interest to look into the way sports I had previously engaged in could be adapted. When I felt like I would never participate in sport again' it was him who encouraged me to pursue para-sports and then I chose athletics.

"Then in 2020' when I started my Bachelor of Medical Sonography/Graduate Diploma of Medical Sonography' I quickly discovered the mental and physical challenges provided by my field of study and sport complemented each other by providing me with balance and motivation.

"For me' there is a sense of purpose and fulfilment in managing these facets of my life. Seeing the results of hard work and determination is motivation to strive towards my lifelong dreams and goals."

For elite sportspeople' studying can be a challenge but Aimee is a firm believer that sporting success doesn't have to be at the sacrifice of other aspirations.

"Currently my career goal is to graduate from sonography in 2023 while training to qualify for the 2022 and 2023 World Para Athletics Championships. Long term I hope to make the team for the 2024 Paralympic Games.

"I am fortunate that CQUniversity offers a combination of online and on-campus learning that is conducive to study and training'" she said.

"I maintain a balance by setting a routine - generally I train in the morning' and then have time throughout the day to study online. When I have on-campus classes I plan my training around those."

Aimee also acknowledged the support she has received from CQUniversity staff and the Inclusion and Accessibility team in overcoming the challenges associated with sonography studies.

"I have needed to problem-solve with my wheelchair so that I can be as proficient and independent with my skill as the rest of the cohort'" she said.

"My tutors have assisted in finding the best ergonomic setup' practising ways to move the equipment around' and adapting the way I scan for examinations where it may be better to perform them standing up.

"It's nice to have the support' but also be part of an environment where my chair is acknowledged but doesn't change the perception of my skill level or independence – tutors place the same expectations on me and investment into our whole cohort."

She hopes her journey will help to change perceptions of what is possible and encourage other young people with disabilities.

"My AIS education scholarship will allow me to work with the AIS to promote a positive message and share my identity as a para-athlete off the track'" Aimee said.

"You will always find people along your journey who will tell you that you can't because you have an accessibility concern' but you have to stay determined and focused on your goals. Find the people who acknowledge your accessibility as part of you' rather than a barrier' and help you work on how you can achieve those goals."