Here at The Shepherd Centre, we are always delighted to hear news of our past graduates and learn about the things they have achieved since graduating.
This month, our Past Graduate in profile is 24-year-old Joe Symons, who attended our Wollongong centre from the age of four.
After graduating from The Shepherd Centre, Joe had the help of an itinerant teacher at primary school, who he credits with assisting the ongoing development of his speech and reading skills until he completed primary school in 2001. His family then moved to Jindabyne in the Snowy Mountains, where he started high school and went on to complete his HSC.
“I had a fantastic time there. I had no problems with being deaf – I do everything that everybody else does!” Joe told us.
After school, Joe worked a ski season in Perisher, which helped to improve his confidence.
“It has improved so much, four years ago I struggled with a stutter unrelated to my hearing loss, but now you can’t keep me quiet!
“I have also been getting the latest and greatest in hearing aids. At the moment I have waterproof hearing aids – they are amazing!”
Joe also has a passion for gymnastics, having competed at Cooma YMCA and later becoming a boys’ gymnastics coach, which he says helped improve his confidence and speech even further.
In addition to being a skilled skier and gymnast, Joe is also an enthusiastic mountain biker. He was awarded the Institute Champion prize while completing a course at the Australian Institute of Fitness, an award given to the individual voted top of the class by a panel of teachers.
Moving to Canberra in 2010, Joe studied Design Fundamentals, Visual Art and Contemporary Craft at Canberra Institute of Technology. He has since founded a t-shirt design company for which he screen prints his own designs, and was recently chosen to showcase his designs at an event called SPECTRUM, with over 600 people going to see his fashion show.
Twenty years on from his time at The Shepherd Centre, Joe still credits The Shepherd Centre with helping him to get where he is today.
“It has made such a big impact on my life,” Joe said.