Walking down the aisle today for one Bachelor of Arts graduate will be the end of a nine-year journey, a testament to the value of family support, and confirmation of a life-long love.
Jillian Thompson, who is profoundly deaf, said there had been many times when she doubted she would ever make it to this point. But this afternoon she graduates with her degree in Library and Information Science at a Charles Sturt University Wagga Wagga Campus graduation ceremony.
For her, getting the qualifications to be a librarian is the makings of a dream job. She desperately wanted to be a librarian since she was a little girl.
"Reading and books have been a part of my life since infancy," she said. "I was always into a book (and) libraries have always fascinated me. I suppose that in my mind the library was actually a 'Wonderland of books' and I was Alice. I grew up with an ambition to be a librarian and remain involved with books - my first love."
The 34-year-old Sydney mother of two said studying by distance education with CSU was the only way she could continue working, be with her family and still achieve her ambition.
Her mother, Thelma Parker, said Jillian was profoundly deaf since birth and also had some vision impairment, and was the only student of her "era" who completed her HSC unaided - let alone went on to University - without the help of private schools and special tutors.
"Jillian did a diploma course about 10 years ago and they made quite a fuss about that in Sydney at the time because she was the first deaf person to achieve so much working on her own through the public school system," Thelma said.
"We're all so very proud of her."
Jillian credits her family as her "pivotal support", and a fondly-remembered primary school teacher as the inspiration behind her drive: "She stressed that I was capable enough to go to TAFE or even University - that became my goal."
"My mother and my family, especially my wonderful husband Colin, have coddled, bullied, encouraged, even persuaded me to continue throughout the nine long years it's taken me to get this degree, even though I thought many times of packing it in."