Helping future students with disabilities achieve their dreams

Helping future students with disabilities achieve their dreams

Many alumni choose to leave a gift in their will to Macquarie University in order to help students achieve their dreams.

Macquarie alumna Katalin Erdelyi is one of them.  Katalin and her mother decided to set up a bequest to help postgraduate students with a disability, after the difficulties Katalin faced in completing her studies with a spinal injury.

Katalin graduated from Macquarie University with a Bachelor of Arts.  She then obtained a Bachelor of Architecture at UNSW and returned to Macquarie to do her Master of Environmental Planning.  She then went on to work for state and local government and currently operates a consulting practice in state infractructure and project management.

“In 1989 I damaged my lower spine.  For six months, I couldn’t sit while waiting for my back to settle and doctors could operate” said Katalin.

“So that I could continue my masters coursework, my mother Stefania would drive me to the university, as I could only travel whilst lying on the back seat of the car.  Then she would read novels in the university library whilst I attended lectures kneeling on a cushion as I couldn’t sit on a chair.”

Katalin's father passed away in 2013, and her mother, who had suffered a stroke some years previously, knows first-hand how difficult it is to do everyday tasks with a disability.

“So we both decided to set up a fund to assist postgraduate students with a disability”, Katalin says.  “If the fund were there in 1989, it would have made my masters a lot easier to achieve.  We hope that, with our bequest, postgraduate students with a physical disability can achieve their goals and benefit society.

I since became more aware of the multiplicity of the types and the diversity of physical disabilities, and of the difficulties faced by those with the disabilities. I used to relate disability with wheelchairs, but that is definitely not the case. Assistance is not just provision of equipment.  Each person is unique and so is their disability.  I started asking myself these questions: How does a person who is visually or hearing-impaired attend classes? How do they present papers? How does someone with impaired fingers or no hands complete their thesis? How do those with mobility problems travel to conferences? How many brilliant minds are out there that would benefit from a postgraduate degree, but cannot do so because of the difficulties raised by their physical impairment."

Katalin has been able to pursue a rewarding career with the benefit of her postgraduate degree but is doubtful she would have been able to achieve this without the generous assistance of her family, and her mum in particular while she was disabled. The legacy that she and her mother are creating will ensure that students who do not have that family support will be able to also pursue their dreams.

To find out more about leaving a bequest in your will contact Anne Peedom on (02) 9850 1392 or email

Content owner: Advancement Last updated: 11 Jun 2019 1:53pm

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