Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Deaf Student Pursues Dream of Becoming a Doctor

Deaf Student Pursues Dream of Becoming a Doctor

The commencement ceremony at University of Virginia held a special meaning for one student who graduated with a degree in chemistry despite being deaf. Now that her undergraduate career has come to a close, Jasmine Saleh continues to over come her disability with plans to attend medical school.

"My four years here at UVA have been so wonderful," said Saleh.

Despite being deaf, Saleh focuses on her capabilities rather than her challenges.

"My parents cried when they found out I was deaf. They thought I would never get into college," said Saleh.

Defying all odds, she graduated from UVA this weekend and will start medical school at the University of Illinois in the fall. She plans on becoming a radiologist.

"With my hard work, determination, I got in and everything is going great," said Saleh.

But it was a long road to get here. At 17 months of age Saleh's parents discovered she couldn't hear. When she was five, she received a cochlear implant and then went through rigorous speech therapy to be able to communicate outside the sign language world. Today, she can hear background noises but has difficulty understanding what people say. During classes she relied on an interpreter but the biggest challenge she said was changing how others viewed her.

"They thought that deaf people can't do anything, so I had to prove them wrong," said Saleh.

Greg Propp is an American Sign Language professor at UVA and taught Saleh.

"Jasmine is great, very hard working student, very dedicated," said Propp.

Propp said it's rare for a deaf person to get into college and even medical school.

"Deaf students usually, English is their second language so similar to other second language students, their verbal scores are usually lower," said Propp.

Although hearing is a challenge, Saleh listened to her heart and followed her dream of becoming a doctor, like the one's that made a difference in her life.

"It can change someone's life and broaden more opportunities for that person," said Saleh.

Saleh said being in and out of hospitals as a child was the reason she wanted to go into medicine. She wants to help others and make a difference in their life.