Haben Girma graduated from Harvard Law School. What makes this accomplishment singularly extraordinary is that Haben Girma is both deaf and blind
Haben Girma graduated from Harvard Law School, which many people would see as a colossal achievement in its own right. What makes this accomplishment singularly extraordinary is that Haben Girma is both deaf and blind.
Born in California in 1988, Haben shares her disability with her brother, but has never let it slow her down. She was able to take advantage of technology to help her, including having a digital Braille device which enables her to read text on a computer. She can use it as she travels so that she can have real-time conversations with the people she meets.
“First deaf-blind graduate from Harvard Law.”
She was the very first deaf-blind graduate from Harvard Law, was named one of the Forbes 30 under 30, and has been honoured by President Obama at the White House. She works as a civil rights lawyer and champions the rights of disabled people.
She doesn’t see herself as an ‘inspiration’. She sees herself as an agent for change, changing the way people connect with one other, and turning disability into empowerment. She feels that managing a disability and overcoming the problems it can bring, helps to inspire new technology and drive innovation.
Whether she likes it or not, Haben Girma is an inspiration. She has never let her disability define who she is, and she uses what she has to its best advantage. She uses technology to help make her life easier (she helps Apple software developers to create accessible technology) and she uses the law to give her what she is entitled to – whether it’s a first class education, or protecting the rights of her clients.
“We can’t do everything alone.”
And here’s something important. We can’t do everything alone. We need the skills and talents of others to help us on our journey.
Many of us turn down help feeling that we can, or should, do the work ourselves. Many of us struggle on alone through the tough times. And yet, how much easier it would be if we had a guide or mentor to help us over the obstacles life so often puts in our path.
Haben Girma may have an important law career but her career doesn’t define her either. As well as her work she also surfs, travels internationally and dances salsa. While at Harvard she competed with their Ballroom Dancing Team. Whatever she wants to do, she finds a way to do it and her life has become all the more richer for it.
What’s holding you back from trying new things? Fear is only as big as you make it. When you conquer your fear, you can do anything. For a deaf-blind person, even going shopping is a big deal, let alone managing to graduate from a top Ivy League school and holding down a successful career.
Fear didn’t prevent Haben Girma from reaching her goal, it doesn’t prevent her from trying new things. For example, she wants to try comedy improvisation – but hasn’t found a suitable class yet.
It shouldn’t stop you, either, never give up.
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Doug Wright, is a transformed survivor of a head-on near death vehicle collision.
Passionate about helping people overcome their inner most fears, especially when recovering from trauma, Doug has survived to share his courageous story … his motto is “never give up”.
Away from his everyday activities, Doug invests his spare time playing his electric guitar, knocking out an eclectic mix of Eagles hits and fishing for coral trout in Airlee Beach, Northern Queensland.