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Challenges are expected in life, some are prayed away while others are hoped for. Unfortunately, the lack of responsibility in one particular individual left multiple wounds in my family. In 1999, a drunk driver bashed into our vehicle and killed my daddy. He was a mathematician, top of his class, and worked magic behind the comfort of a computer. Many depended on him and his academic intelligence, but we depended on his presence. He provided for us, emotionally and financially. Since my mother was born and raised in Mexico, she was still learning English when my older brother was in middle school and I was still causing chaos in diapers. His death was like stripping our sheltered life away and shoving us towards the unknown cruelty of the world.
Mom lacked a college education, a firm understanding of English, and two young ones to feed at home. Already the task of keeping a job became difficult, and the condition of a broken hip that the accident left her in, made it nearly impossible. The money from dad’s diligent duties in the military made it possible to move out of the neighborhood that only knew the tune of gunshots and robberies. I entered school mainly knowing Spanish and certain phrases in English. Academically, I fell behind quickly, and I couldn’t read as easily as others. I couldn’t comprehend the words before me. The separate classes they placed me in were just another reminder and embarrassment. Not sure if that was the intention, but it fueled my determination to better myself. I didn’t want to be labeled as below average. I didn’t want to see my peers pass me by so quickly. I wanted to be the one to excel.
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The obstacles I was forced to face might not compare to the woes of the child who can’t hear down the street or the Marine who sacrificed his legs, but they still impacted my life. They still altered my future. To those that ask, “If there was one thing you could change about your past, what would that be?” I would have to answer with a humble “nothing”. Not because the thought doesn’t appeal to me, but because the slight possibility I wouldn’t be who I am today, frightens me. The passion I feel for the deaf community, the instinctive need to protect and assist in shaping the minds of the children in that society is a sensation I can’t place into words. Placing it into words could never do it justice.
The little girl down the street will forever receive my gratitude. I thought it was odd how friendly she was towards a stranger, towards me. She smiles like there is nothing in the world that could ever bring her down. Even though barely anyone in her family can understand what she says through her hands, she still laughs, loves, and lives. I’m envious of that bliss. That arms-wide welcome into the deaf community stunned me. Without hesitation, I dropped what I thought I wanted to be. I scheduled myself for an ASL (American Sign Language) class. I attended ASL club meetings, festivals and events. Even though I only knew a pinch of sign language, Dani was still ecstatic that someone was actually trying to communicate with her. The look in her eyes changed me. The warmth of their small society inspired me. I want to be someone these people can go to, whether they are young or old. I set my goal to be a psychiatrist. There’s so little available for those hard-of-hearing or deaf when it comes to mental health. I want to be someone they communicate with, especially children. Children are the future, and I want the kids of the deaf community to have a brighter one.
I know if I handle the problems of my past and the hardships yet to come, my efforts won’t be held in vain. Hopefully, I will meet my goal, be successful in my career. Then maybe these people that live with a challenge nearly every day will have someone to confide in. Someone they trust with their moments, worries, or illnesses. I desire this profession because it’s one that specializes in diagnosing, and treating. This is what I want to offer their world.