Friday 20 August 2010

Learning to be a deaf grown up

Today is thankful Friday and I am extremely thankful about the fun weekend ahead I have planned.

Today, my littlest cousin, London Cousin 2, is 9 years old! I can't believe it – it seems no time ago since I was staying with London Aunt and Uncle, helping them out with her when she was a teeny tiny baby.

As I was buying her birthday present yesterday, a little fitted nautical-trend jacket from Next, I felt quite emotional that she has grown up so fast! And then I had to remind myself that she is only 9!

We are all going out to celebrate tonight – London family, The Blancos and The Rents, and it should be great fun...

Anyway, I am also thankful after watching the news this morning that I have already been to university!

I mean, I know the media has a tendency to make things sound worse than they are, but this lack of places thing sounds downright scary.

Looking back, I don't think I would have been one of the lucky ones...

Not without seriously playing the deaf card, and honestly, I never wanted that to be a factor in whether I should get in somewhere.

When I look back at my time at uni, I learnt a lot – it was an environment that suited me and allowed me to adjust to being a deaf adult.

Everyone is different but I think that many people benefit from this staggered form of growing up. I did my final bit during my postgraduate where I learnt how to be deaf in a work place...

It may sound bizarre but I didn't know how to act, how proactive to be and what to say to people – there is a professional way to vocalise your disability and it took time for me to get to grips with it.

If I had gone straight into work, I dread to think where I might be now. I would have had to have done all my learning and all my growing up in the harsh, unforgiving land of the work place.

It actually makes me feel a bit nauseous just thinking about it.

Big Bro on the other hand, did all his growing up in the work place and his amazingly successful career so far is a testament to his hard work but also evidence that uni was not the right path for him.

So here's what I think…

In an ideal world, Uni selection should not just be about grades, it should be about passion and drive. About the right people getting in because it's what they really want.

If times really are changing then people need to stop using uni as an excuse to get drunk for 4 years and start looking at it as a job in itself – regardless of the career plan they choose to follow afterwards.

If they don’t already, universities need to ask questions like, why do you want to come this uni? Why are you right for this course, what are your expectations? How can you contribute?

They need to weed out the time-wasters in the same way that companies do during job interviews.

I am good at my job. I got a 2:1 at uni, and that was without attending more than 4 english literature lectures in the entire three years – I self taught from notes as I couldn’t hear in lectures at all.

But I got not great A-level results, which today would probably not even get me a look-in on any course I wanted to do.

But my uni gave me a chance. They called me in for an interview and asked me all the same questions I listed above. They saw beyond my crap A-levels, saw my passion, drive and determination and allowed me to excel.

And for that, I will be forever thankful.

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