San Jose teen advocates for other hearing impaired students

Zina Jawadi knew that in order to succeed, she had to be an advocate for change, including showing her teachers how to teach her.
Tuesday, April 29, 2014
A South Bay student has realized her dream of attending Stanford University next year. Zina Jawadi is a student with significant hearing loss. She knew that in order to succeed, she had to be an advocate for change. That included showing her teachers how to teach her.

Jawadi, 18, shows no signs of having any kind of disability. That's why she has to remind her classmates and teachers she is hard of hearing. She's been doing it since middle school.

"For example, when I said, 'Oh I can't hear something, can you say it again?' people would say, even my closest friends would say, 'What are you, deaf?' Well, yeah I am hearing impaired, I'm not deaf, there is a difference," Jawadi said.

Jawadi's parents discovered something was not right when she was 3 and a half years old. She spoke only two words, "mom" and "dad."

While today she wears a hearing aid, it's hard to filter out sounds -- words can sound muffled.

So Jawadi decided it was time to change things in the classroom. She selects teachers with a good delivery.

"Certain teachers are much clearer," chemistry teacher Robbie Korin said. "I had her in class; I speak in a loud voice and may enunciate a lot more where she can hear."

This year she decided to help others by making an instructional video on how to teach mainstreamed hard-of-hearing kids.

She received a lot of support from her teachers at the Harker School in San Jose. Some of them even appear in the video.

"I think that's the most important thing for anyone with a learning difference or some kind of disability you have to stick up for yourself," math teacher Bradley Stoll said.

Her tenacity has paid off. Jawadi was accepted into 11 universities, many of them Ivy League schools. She picked Stanford.
Related Topics:
education disability students education Stanford University San Jose
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