I hope everyone is off to a wonderful start to their holidays! Today is a beautiful day to be thankful for the small and big things happening or have already happened in our lives! I am very fortunate to spend the day with family, who I have not seen since being away at school.
Before I start eating some delicious turkey and catching up with my family, I wanted to express thanks for the opportunities I have been given thus far in 2017. Many positive changes happened for the better, and I am just very grateful to see the progress in my life.
In April, my Core team and I won the Questrom Core Challenge, which is a competition among the top three teams that have developed a thorough business plan for an original product or service idea. At the Questrom School of Business, where I attend, each student is required to go through “Core,” which is a semester long program that gives students a real life experience of creating a business plan, implementing marketing, operations, financial, and analytical material learned from class. During the September to December 2016 months, my amazing team and I worked tirelessly on developing an idea for an athletic apparel product, and I am so happy that our hard work paid off!
In June, my friend, Julia, and I had the opportunity to travel to Lake Tahoe for the life-changing No Barriers Summit. Most of you know I travelled to Peru with No Barriers Youth in 2015. At the summit, I met people from all walks of life with varying disabilities, who embodied the epitome of strength, fearlessness, and had a thirst for life. No Barriers also brought many guest speakers, who exemplify the No Barriers life, to share their experiences overcoming obstacles, including Oscar award-winning actress Marlee Matlin, America’s Got Talent contestant Mandy Harvey, and No Barriers founder Erik Weihenmayer. For those unaware, Erik Weihenmayer is the first blind man to ever hike Mount Everest! I had a fun filled weekend skiing, listening to inspiring stories, making new friends, hiking, rock-climbing, and more! I truly walked away from that weekend, embracing the “What’s within you is stronger than what’s in your way” motto.
Over the summer, I had a wonderful internship experience in WGBH’s finance department! I also connected with someone in WGBH’s National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM) department, which aims to increase accessibility for viewers. We bonded over how far the industry has come in providing services, such as closed captions for deaf and hard of hearing viewers, and how far we still have to go! Also, I moved into my first apartment with my friend, Alexa. We had a blast exploring Boston, having impromptu photoshoots, and trying out new restaurants. Though, I will never forget the dead mouse we found under my bed the third day I was there, and I had to go home for a week because dead rats aren’t my thing. Of course, we called maintenance, but the building is old and who wants rats running amok in your room?
In July, I was appointed Kids Director for the Massachusetts chapter of AG Bell! Through this position, I serve as a mentor and plan social events for young, deaf children, giving them a chance to bond with each other over common experiences. I recently hosted a rock-climbing event in October, and can’t wait to host another in the Winter.
In September, the BU Deaf Studies department invited me to share my story growing up deaf, my experiences having cochlear implants, and the obstacles I have faced and overcome. Since the program places a strong emphasis on sign language, I was thrilled that they asked me to offer a new perspective of the deaf community. I am also taking an ASL course with an awesome professor, who is also deaf but communicates via sign. If you ask me, the hardest part about ASL is learning to finger spell fast!! The hand cramps you get…
Throughout the year, I have met Marlee Matlin twice!! For those of you unfamiliar with her, she’s an amazing, down-to-earth Oscar award-winning actress, who happens to be deaf. I first met her at the No Barriers Summit in June, where she gave a speech about her experiences growing up deaf and being an actress in Hollywood, breaking down barriers everyday. She notes that people, regardless of disability, can do anything if they live by her formula: “Courage plus dreams equal success.” Most recently, I met her at the MFA in Boston, where she screened her favorite movie, “Dirty Dancing,” an amazing movie I had never seen before, and discussed her favorite Hollywood roles, how Switched at Birth has helped with deaf presentation, but that Hollywood still has a long way to go in offering fair opportunities and accessibility for any disabled actor (check out the hashtag: #DeafTalent on twitter). I quickly caught her before she walked out, and mentioned that I met her at No Barriers and that I was learning ASL. She was thrilled, and I hope to be more proficient the next time I meet her!
Finally, I am so excited to share that I will be travelling to Nepal in late December to volunteer at a Deaf school, and explore the small country! I can’t wait to learn from these deaf students, further my knowledge about the differences in deaf communities between developing and developed nations, forge new friendships, and see the Himalayas!!
I am just very thankful for all the good changes that have happened in 2017 thus far, and I can’t wait to see what happens next!