Noah Beltrame, an advocate for people on the autism spectrum, has graduated from year 12 with early entry offers from four different universities.
The 18-year-old Marian Catholic College student, who is himself on the spectrum, was previously advised by some not to pursue an ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank) and to focus on vocational education instead.
That was advice he wasn’t prepared to take.
“I didn’t care what anyone thought, I just really wanted to get into university,” Mr Beltrame said.
Although he’s yet to receive his ATAR score, he’s already received offers to study a multi-media communications degree at the University of Canberra, Charles Sturt University, Torrens University, and SAE Creative Media Institute.
“I’m planning to take a gap year in 2024, then I’ll decide which one to go to in 2025,” he said.
For the past year, he’s been on a mission to change the way the general public views autism spectrum disorder, to help them understand the positive side of the condition.
“I don’t look at autism as a disability … I see [the difference between those on or not on the spectrum] more like the difference between left-handers and right-handers,” Mr Beltrame said.
“There are still people who think autism is something that needs to be ‘cured’ … [I disagree], the world would be a much worse place if we didn’t have people like me.”
We profiled Mr Beltrame, who reflected on his time at school and plans for the future.
Name: Noah Beltrame.
Primary school: St Mary’s Yoogali.
High School: Marian Catholic College.
Best memory of school: Every Monday at St Mary’s, I’d be taken to Riding for the Disabled by Mrs Suine with two other children on the spectrum.
Naughtiest thing you ever did at school: Once I fell over and pretended that my bully tripped me to get him in trouble. But he deserved it, he was calling me names. So I fell over and pretended he pushed me.
Teachers who inspired you: Mr Lyon, my high school modern history teacher, and Ms Star, my maths teacher.
One thing you’d change about the education system: There needs to be more education in schools about what autism is. We learned about it for one day and that was it. I wish there was more acknowledgement about it, to make things easier both for us and other people too.
Best advice you received from your parents: Never be afraid to be yourself.
Famous person you most admire and why: Michael Messineo, a content creator on YouTube, also known as Mike’s Mic. He does something I’d like to do myself. I also admire autistic actress Chloe Hayden, who stars in the TV show Heartbreak High.
Plans for next year: I’m going to take a gap year. I’d like to work in a sports store like GB Sports.
After your gap year: A multi-media communications degree or something similar at one of the universities in which I’ve been accepted.
Social issue you most care about: Businesses hiring people with autism just to get funding out of the government.
Special skills: Photographic memory. I can tell you the capital city of every country in the world. I’m good with statistics, too.
Dream career job: Advertising.
If you know of a Riverina year 12 graduate who has achieved good results or is doing something interesting next year, drop us a line at [email protected].