Jacinta has a high functioning form of Autism called Asperger’s Syndrome.
Jacinta was diagnosed with Asperger’s at 14 while at an all-girls boarding school in the United Kingdom. Whilst the school was accommodating and accepting, Jacinta still struggled with school and the interactions required. Eventually her father’s job moved her from her school in the United Kingdom and her home in Chicago in the United States to Perth where she was enrolled at John XXIII College with her cousins.
The Learning Enrichment Program at John XXIII College took Jacinta in and under its program, support workers and counselors, she thrived at school and her marks began to soar. When in year 11, Jacinta decided to study at Curtin after attending several open days and talking to the various disability officers.
Jacinta enrolled at Curtin in 2013 with a Headmaster’s Recommendation Scholarship and started her studies towards her multiple disciplinary science degree in the hopes of becoming a science communicator. Even with the support however Jacinta began to decline in her social interactions and failed to make friends.
In 2014, Jacinta switched degrees to start a degree in physics majoring in astrophysics and joined the Curtin Specialist Mentoring Program (CSMP) in its first year following a mix up in mobile numbers. She is very grateful that this occurred because with the help of her mentors and the safe space the program provided, she was able to succeed at university and graduate with her bachelor’s degree at the end of 2016, also having won the Curtin STAR Scholarship in 2014 and the Summer Physics and Astronomy Scholarship in 2014.
During her time in the CSMP, Jacinta did many presentations for the program and ended up becoming a mentor to a couple of school aged children on the spectrum. She also began volunteer work with Scitech Discovery Centre before being offered a casual role in 2016.
Jacinta worked at Scitech casually and when she graduated from Curtin, moved to full time hours under her casual contract. In 2018 Jacinta was offered a full-time job at Optika Solutions and currently still works there managing the communications around their product offerings and case studies and assisting in the implementation of various strategies across the business.
During her time at Scitech, Jacinta was able to move out of home and in with a flat mate, a year later she bought her own flat and a year after that adopted her first cat who has provided Jacinta with endless snuggles and entertainment. She also took up martial arts and sword fighting classes at Ursa Major HEMA Academy. Her involvement in the club was what allowed her to meet her current partner 2 years ago, and they moved in together earlier this year.
Finally, Jacinta’s advocacy for those on the Spectrum and her constant involvement in the CSMP and in various panel discussions surrounding Autism caught the attention and eye of Spectrum Space. They invited her to join their board of directors in 2018, a role she accepted with much enthusiasm. Since then, she has spoken at more events, advocating for those on the spectrum, and is looking forward to doing more events this year.
Jacinta feels strongly that her current achievements and her confidence to be an advocate for those on the spectrum stems from the support of the CSMP program, and she looks forward to continuing to supporting this initiative well into the future so that her peers can have access to the same success and opportunities she did.