There were eight minutes left for the game; we had a tied score. As a defensive player, I knew I had to do the best I could to not let the opposing team score a goal and win the game. The whistle, the shouts, the cheers, the players and so much movement going on around me, yet I felt left out because I couldn’t focus on all of them at the same time. This was the moment I realized that this was actually an everyday event, but I was so used to it that I didn’t notice it. When I was 14 years old, I was diagnosed with mild/moderate hearing loss. This condition makes it a struggle for me to listen and understand what others are saying. I confuse many different sounds and letters because of this condition. Many times people ask me if I wish I could “fix it” or why I don’t get a cochlear implant, when in reality, for me there’s nothing to be “fixed.” Even though this struggle is constant without my hearing aids, I am still successful at school and outside of school. It might not affect me academically, but it does affect me emotionally, because sometimes it is hard for me to keep up a conversation with someone when I only understand half of what they are saying even after I asked for repetition three times. Being diagnosed with moderate hearing loss made me realize that I am different, but in a good way. It also made me create strategies for myself like reading lips and focusing on others’ physical expressions in order to understand better. I would like to become a successful person and demonstrate to the world that others’ inappropriate comments (about “fixing” things) should not matter. Even though some people do not believe I can meet my goals, I will confidently show them that I can.

My impediment actually makes me proud, even if people think of me as “disabled” and think I cannot succeed. I know I can do many things even if others do not think so because I’m brilliant, smart, and I believe in myself. Everyday I encourage myself to do the best I can. I see myself as a successful and skillful person and not as a hearing impaired student, like some people do. I have decided not to let my condition hold me back from what I want to achieve in my life.

Because of my condition, I learned to adapt easily to my surroundings, advocate for myself, think outside the box, and to find alternative ways to solve problems and improve situations. This increased my interest in civil engineering. The world is full of sophisticated and modern technology, but even when these advances are applied, the products don’t always come out as efficient as they should. For example, in New York City, majority of the population, especially those of low income, live in apartment buildings. Most of these buildings have poor structural quality and living conditions. Sometimes the walls are not thick enough to keep the cold air outside and they are breaking, heating systems don’t work, there are leaks everywhere, etc… Families struggle while living in these conditions, however not all can afford moving to a new place. In one of the leading cities of the world this should not be happening. People’s lives are at risk instead of being protected. It is unfair that they are looking for shelter and they find danger instead. I would like to be able to improve buildings’ safety, quality and sustainability by applying my learned skills. I will demonstrate that a hard-of-hearing female can become an engineer and succeed. This will be my way of contributing to society and improving other people’s lives.

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