I was an outcast. I could never seem to find the right people to become friends with, what clubs to join, or what kind of classes I enjoyed taking. I was only learning more about who I was as a person. I stood out from my classmates due to being deaf and having two Cochlear Implants to help me adapt to the hearing world. At my old school, not everyone knew or understood how to deal with my disability. However, all of that changed when I entered high school. Upon arriving at the high school, my IEP team made sure my teachers and my peers understood what my disability was. They assure that I am situated and have what I need at all times.
Yes, I am fortunate to have my Cochlear Implants and have an excellent IEP team. However, I still have a hard time hearing everyone and everything. Unlike average students, I have a disadvantage in the classroom and it affects how I live my everyday life. For example, sometimes my peers will mumble during a group discussion, and other students may tap their pencil on the desk while talking to me, which are only a few of my struggles in school. But through all of this trouble, I learned how to work much harder in the classroom.
Being the person I am, I try my best to make any negative situation positive. I don’t think of my hearing loss as a disadvantage, instead, I look on the bright side and turn it into a positive situation. Because I have to work twice as hard as a result of my hearing loss, many students describe me as ambitious and overachieving. I have learned to set educational goals because I am deaf and I do attend a very competitive high school. With these goals, it gave me a of trying my hardest and taking every quiz, assignment, and exam seriously. Being deaf has taught me skills that a normal hearing student wouldn’t be able to learn. I’ve learned to be consistent, work hard, stay motivated, and be determined. As a result from the skills I have learned through my struggles, I have been a successful student maintaining an A average with a 4.18 GPA and have taken 8 AP or Honors courses. Furthermore, as I learned to be consistent with everything, I rarely fall behind. Since I have developed these skills from the troubles of my hearing loss during my time in high school, I know I will continue to practice these skills in college: I want to be successful.
Not only has my hearing loss has affected my work outside of the classroom, but it has influenced my work for extra-curricular activities. Since my hearing loss encourages me to be aspiring in everything I participate in, I have taken on the role of multiple service-based leadership positions. Walking through the doors on the first day of high school, I was terrified. However, because of the help from my astonishing IEP team, an upperclassman talked to me and inspired me to go to the first Key Club meeting. I still remember that first meeting today, I was so inspired by the enthusiasm and dedication for service from all of the members. We all shared one goal, we wanted to make a difference in the community. I continued to go to all of the club meetings throughout the school year. During the spring semester of my freshman year, there were elections for the club board. The President immediately nominated me for the position of Sophomore Representative. I was thrilled that she believed in me, but at the same time, I didn’t know if I had what it took to be a leader. A few weeks later, elections came around, and sure enough, I won that election. I had this feeling that I could do anything and little did I know, my Key Club journey was only beginning. After my term as Sophomore Representative, I became my club’s Vice President and I am currently serving as District Bulletin Editor on the state board. With my service-based leadership positions, I discovered what it takes to be a leader. There is no such thing as an “ideal leader.” Having a hearing loss is not stopping me from carrying out my leadership position well on the board. I am still able to talk in front of 700+ Key Club members at our District Convention, I am still able to create exceptional publications for all general members in the district, and I am still able to inspire others to serve their community and live by the Key Club motto “Caring- our way of life” due to having volunteered 400 hours from the start of high school (as of October 2016).
To conclude, my hearing loss may have affected me negatively: I cannot hear what others are saying clearly, I cannot understand people in loud environments, I cannot pick out the lyrics out of a song, and I have had painful surgeries to have my Cochlear Implants implanted. But instead of looking at how these struggles may have affected me in a negative way, I use these hardships to motivate me to try harder. My hearing loss has undeniably affected me in a positive way more so than in a pessimistic way. As I learned to work harder than most hearing people, I have been very successful both in and out of the classroom. Being deaf is a part of my identity, and it always will be.