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5 minutes with Vanessa Vlajkovic


A curiosity about the world and a desire to inform society are two reasons why Vanessa Vlajkovic, a deafblind student, decided on a journalism course at ECU.

ECU graduate Mark Bird was a winner alongside Vanessa Vlajkovic at the 2016 WA Youth Awards. They are pictured at the awards with ECU Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Teaching, Learning and International), Professor Ron Oliver.
ECU graduate Mark Bird was a winner alongside Vanessa Vlajkovic at the 2016 WA Youth Awards. They are pictured at the awards with ECU Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Teaching, Learning and International), Professor Ron Oliver.

Q. Why did you choose to study journalism?

A. I chose journalism because I thought it was the most suitable degree for me in terms of what was practical. I have always had a natural curiosity about everything around me. I love to read and I have won several writing competitions, both national and international; thus I have confidence in my writing abilities. It certainly isn’t a dream career, but in life you go with what’s do-able as opposed to what your heart may want. I’m also sick and tired of seeing poorly written articles, (about myself, among other things) because journalists aren’t bothering to check their facts. I want to be better than what they are doing. I want to get it right and do it well.

Q. What challenges have you faced at university?

A. There have been a great many challenges since I started at ECU nearly a year ago. Nothing they tell you in high school will prepare you for what you actually face when you step on to a uni campus. Probably not having a lot of friends at uni is one of the things that makes it tougher. I get that it is a learning environment, not a social one, and that I’m there to attend the lectures and get the work done, not gossip and have fun. But it does feel lonely sometimes, and I assume it has something to do with having two interpreters, a note taker and a communication guide surrounding me at all times. It likely intimidates any potential friends, although honestly, none of us bite.

Q. What do you hope to do with your degree?

A. Television would be my number one preference, followed by radio, print and online writing. I simply intend to take it one day at a time, I’m not in a huge rush. There isn’t much point stressing about something that’s too far off — when I graduate in two years I’ll figure out what’s next. I’m more a live-in-the moment kind of person.

Journalism student Vanessa Vlajkovic
Journalism student Vanessa Vlajkovic

Q. You were named WA Youth of the Year in 2016. How will you be advocating on behalf of the deafblind community?

A. My goal is to have Braille menus put into as many restaurants as possible. So far I have been successful in getting Sizzler across Australia to print their menu in Braille so now they are available to those who need them. It is very important to me, as I have used Braille since age four and I am a strong believer that everyone deserves equal access. There is a ridiculously long list of things that need Braille on them, but I am starting with menus. Raising awareness about deafblindness is paramount. Without a better understanding of what it means to have vision and hearing loss, society will never know how they can make things better for us.

Q. Tell us about your cheerleading: What else do you like to do when not studying?

A. I have been cheerleading for nearly 20 months now. I have a background in dancing and gymnastics, having spent 10 years doing jazz, tap, ballet, hip hop, Spanish and acrobatics. I spent two years doing artistic gymnastics before finally settling on my passion: cheer. I train three times a week at West Coast Fury Cheer and Tumble, doing group stunts, (where I am the flyer), solo tumbling and group tumbling. The instant my feet cross the gym’s entrance, I’m on cloud nine. With the ongoing support of my coach, mentor and close friend, Peta Parker, I’ve been able to compete for the past two seasons and take pleasure in the many wins I have accomplished. When I’m not upside down or being thrown around in the air, I like to read, listen to music and, most of all, spend time with my friends. I’m indebted to the special people in my life that are there for me always.

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