College of Applied Sciences & Arts
Why did you choose your major?
I was a sophomore in high school when I first became interested in physical therapy. My mom underwent surgery for a severe foot infection in 2008, which coincided with the time my father lost his engineering job. As I watched my mom struggle to walk and my dad search for a new job, I reflected on a career that would make an impact on other people’s lives and would be a stable profession. I already knew that I loved the feeling of making a difference whether through the school government, or within my local community. When my mom learned how to walk independently again and my dad found work, the novelty of physical therapy stayed with me.
Volunteering at Fremont Kaiser Permanente in my senior year of high school sealed the deal: While running the hospital gift shop, I would often meet lonely customers who were eager to share their life stories. It was easy to see that my personality flourished within the medical setting. I could not imagine spending the rest of my life working at a desk job for seven hours straight so it was clear that Kinesiology was the perfect fit!
What does receiving this particular award mean to you?
This award was a very pleasant surprise. As a sophomore commuting student, I have slowly navigated through campus, learning the ropes of college life. Upon entering SJSU in Fall 2011, I had no idea that the Kinesiology department was well connected between the staff, students, and their four KIN campus organizations. I began to find ways to get involved within the KIN community because I enjoyed the laughter and learning experiences. Therefore I am very honored to be named a Presidents Scholar.
Who has been instrumental in your life and/or who has contributed to your academic success?
As a hard of hearing student, I have been very lucky to have two special individuals who encouraged me to succeed despite my sensory disability. The very first is Fremont Unified School District Hearing Specialist Lynda Koraltan, who ensured I was provided the assisted hearing devices for my K-12 education. Her positive attitude taught me how to be grateful for my strengths rather than dwell on my weaknesses. Jinea Yoshimura, my audiologist, has been a great support as well. It wasn't just my challenges as a hard of hearing student that we would discuss while she would adjust my hearing aids, but life in general.
Upon reaching SJSU, I acquired a third mentor, Rachel Vimont, DPT. Working as one of her student aides has taught me how to be a professional while maintaining a friendly atmosphere for patients. I continue to learn something new each day and I am grateful for the commitment she holds for her students.
And of course, there are my parents who have been on this journey with me from the very beginning. They grew up on opposite ends of the spectrum, with my father living in the Philippines until he was 27, and a mother who traveled across the continents with her military family. My parents have taught me to never take things for granted despite the obstacles one may face. Instead, it is best to push for as far as talents can reach - the sky is the limit!
Did you overcome any hardships or adversities during your life, that has helped shape who you are today? And if so, could you please briefly elaborate?
I was born with a bilateral genetic hearing loss and started wearing hearing aides in the 5th grade. I still remember the faint pang of disappointment when I discovered that my new hearing devices merely amplified every squeak and shuffle rather than completely cure my hearing difficulties. However, I learned that instead of focusing on my insecure social navigations, it was more rewarding to vent a positive energy towards volunteering to benefit my community. By the time I graduated from high school, I transformed into an independent and confident hard of hearing individual.
However, I continued to face challenges in my transition to SJSU, mainly advocating for my equal access to educational. I appealed to the Department of Rehabilitation (DOR) for an alternative FM system that was best suited to my needs. To my utter relief, I was successful! Knowing that professors have hundreds of students in the course of a single year, it was also important that I introduce myself to my instructors to ensure their familiarity with my assisted hearing device, as well as the captioning services I was able utilize from the DRC. I am often the first hard of hearing student a professor has come across and it is humbling to realize that while they teach me of the great ancient civilizations, I am able to teach them about living life with a hearing loss!
Despite my hearing loss, I am proud to say that these past two years at SJSU has been filled with many exciting experiences. The Humanities Honors Program and upcoming Salzburg Scholarship for 2013-2014 have opened my eyes to the diversity of the world - a very important lesson as a future health professional. I am also grateful for the opportunities to contribute to the SJSU Kinesiology Department Blog and to make a difference for my fellow peers as a KIN club officer. I have also been very lucky to share my story with the Fremont Unified School Board in Spring 2011 as well as the California State University William Randolph Trustee Scholarship Committee in Fall 2012. I am grateful to have another opportunity to do so as a Presidents Scholar!
Most importantly, my hearing loss has taught me that we all have the capacity to overcome our challenges and strive for excellence - it’s just a matter of finding that inner strength to move forward.
What would you say to other students to encourage or inspire them to attain academic excellence?
Stay positive. Life has the tendency to knock us off our feet and just when we think one challenge is over, the next comes along with a vengeance. Yet whether its joyful, disheartening, exciting or just plain embarrassing, every lesson is a valuable learning experience. We are here at SJSU in hopes of not only educating ourselves on how to make a living, but to make a difference one day in the lives of others. Surround yourself with positive people to support you when you are going through a rough time or when there is a call for celebration. I have been very lucky to be in a major filled with peers who support one another; I wish the same for every student lucky enough to be receiving a college education. Learning is truly a privilege because knowledge empowers us not only to attain academic excellence, but to make a difference!
Where would you like to be in 5-10 years?
At this time, my goal is to earn a doctor in physical therapy. I am also beginning to realize that Kinesiology is a growing field and that there are many unique avenues to contribute to public health. One thing for sure, is that I hope to be a member of the medical field.
One day, I also aspire to be an advocate for young hard of hearing students and write a book about my experiences. Either way, I am truly looking forward to my next adventure around the corner!
A few words from her nominating professor:
“She is an outstanding student, was recently selected to receive the CSU William Randolph Hearst Trustee Award for SJSU and was named Trustee William Hauck Scholar. She is also Treasurer of the Pre Physical Therapy Club and is hearing impaired but never lets that stop her!”
- Professor Shirley Reekie