Past Graduate Elly talks about her role at The Shepherd Centre

11 Jan 2019

In 2018, past graduate Elly Unicomb returned to The Shepherd Centre in the role of Fundraising Officer, and we couldn’t be more delighted to have her on the team! Here, we learn more about Elly’s journey at The Shepherd Centre – from when she first began therapy sessions at our Figtree Centre in Wollongong in 1993, to her exciting role within our Fundraising department.

Tell us about your hearing loss.
I lost my hearing due to meningitis at the age of 18 months. I have a mild to severe loss in my right ear and wear a hearing aid, and I have no hearing in my left ear. I first joined The Shepherd Centre in 1993.

How did The Shepherd Centre help you and your family during that time?
The Shepherd Centre helped me learn to listen and speak, and to interact with my family and peers in a way that I probably wouldn’t have been able to otherwise. I was able to attend mainstream primary and high school and later attend university (degree still in progress!). They helped me develop spoken language and interact with others and be able to experience the world like any hearing person would. It’s not without its challenges, but I believe early intervention set me up to be able to approach and do anything I wanted in and out of school.

How important do you think that the support you received from The Shepherd Centre was in helping you achieving your goals?
It was invaluable, for both me and my family. I was able to attend mainstream school and do everything that everyone else was doing. Nothing
held me back.

How do you think life would look for you without the support of The Shepherd Centre?
My life would be completely different. Without The Shepherd Centre, I wouldn’t have learned to listen and speak, or participate in the hearing world. I probably wouldn’t have attended mainstream school, and I may perhaps not have achieved an ATAR of 93 – a result of which I am very proud. Thanks to The Shepherd Centre, I was able to experience everything my hearing peers experienced. I studied Italian and went on a two-month exchange to Italy at age 17. I played sports, including netball, tennis, touch football and even learnt to surf in high school. I love the sound
of the waves!

Tell us a little more about your life now.
Prior to my role at The Shepherd Centre I spent eight years studying Nutrition and working in Canberra. I now live in Sydney near the beach. I grew up on the South Coast and love going swimming at the beach or in the river, something I have greatly missed living in Canberra! My role of Fundraising Officer for The Shepherd Centre in Newtown has been exciting, I’ve been able to meet and get to know our donors, as well as attend and speak at events such as our Alumni Conference, donor evenings and the launch of our Macarthur services. I even sang in the choir at last year’s gala! 

Thanks to The Shepherd Centre, I was able to experience everything my hearing peers experienced.

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