Zina Jawadi: Determined by a Doubter

Zina Jawadi

Zina is a rising freshman at Stanford University. She is Vice President and member of the Board of Trustees of the Hearing Loss Association of America, California State Association.

As a person with hearing loss, writing stylistically, grammatically, and analytically does not come naturally to me. Through years of hard work, I have acquired valuable everlasting writing skills.

In my life, I have encountered two types of people: the supporters, those who recognize my potential and believe in me, and the doubters, those who question my abilities regardless of my achievements. Ironically, the person who helped me grow most in English was a doubter. In eighth grade, from the first class with my English teacher, I knew that she did not understand hearing loss and did not care to provide any accommodations for hearing loss. For the whole year, I was certain that she was tougher on me than she was on most of the other students. She was an excellent, but strict and highly demanding teacher. I felt that she found my presence in the classroom and my requests for accommodations annoying. At the time, I was in Honors English (now, I am in AP English Literature and Composition), but she tried her best to move me down to regular English. Yet, driven by persistence and a sense of challenge, I continued striving relentlessly, learning from her class, and focusing on improving my English language skills.

When I completed eighth grade, I was exhausted from the experience and feared that I would continue to struggle in English in high school. To my delight, I found English in high school significantly easier, perhaps because of the strong foundation from that difficult eighth-grade year. A doubter transformed my English skills, thrusting me to thrive not only in English but also in many other fields, such as public speaking. Looking back at my experience, I wonder if my teacher was tough on me, because she saw a potential in me and wanted to challenge me. While on the outside she appeared to be an ultimate doubter, she may have been an absolute supporter.

To me, life is about conquering doubt and winning doubters. If you can convince a doubter - even slightly - of your potential, you will have successfully overcome an obstacle, which makes you stronger. For this reason, I am thankful I have hearing loss. Hearing loss has taught me how to manage my time, to focus, and to win doubters, against all odds. Growing up, I did not know any person with hearing loss to look up to. For many years, I was the only student with hearing loss in my school, so I became my own advocate. With or without hearing loss, self-advocacy is a vital skill. Use your hearing loss to advocate for yourself. You will be amazed. No matter how many doubters there are in the world, you will have boundless respect from supporters.

Good luck!