In a world where most deaf and blind students are seen as limited, Haben Girma breaks that stereotype by being the first blind-deaf to graduate from Harvard Law. In her interview with EBC, Girma explains that only 6% of blind-deaf students have qualified teachers. Growing up, she taught herself what most teachers could not and became a talented dancer and skier. It was around that time she became interested in law and became determined to give people with her condition better education. As a disability rights advocate, Girma hopes to inspire others with her condition and send a positive message that anything is possible.Haben Girma interned at the Civil Rights U.S. Department of Education’s Office to help her become a disability rights lawyer. She also teaches and mentors in Mali, where she also helped build a school. The accomplishments of her life benefited her older brother who is also blind and deaf. They grew up looking for proper education in Eritrea with their grandmother until Haben and her mother went to the United States for better education. Unfortunately her brother stayed behind and did not find education until he was twelve. After experiencing hard times through school, Haben and her brother want to make sure no one else has the same troubles. Haben Girma’s brother travels around the world promoting technology that helps people with their disabilities. Haben is a proud owner of a device she uses to help her communicate by typing. The device helped her finish law school with much ease.
When asked by Frank Stacio about her difficulties in law school, Haben Girma replied:
“As someone who had never gone to law school before, it was hard to anticipate the challenges. And Harvard Law had not had a deaf-blind student before. They couldn’t quite anticipate all the challenges. But we met early on before I started and discussed potential challenges and potential solutions. And we continued to work together to figure out how I would do oral arguments, how I would take my exams, how to do internships over the summer. It was just constant positive, creative thinking, optimism, and we–we made it. We got through it.”Recently, the news of Haben Girma’s astounding accomplishments reached the White House. Girma had the honor of meeting President Obama and was awarded with being named a White House Champion of Change. Today she is still being awarded for her excellence as she promotes African American education.
Written By: Sunday Owens, Staff Writer, #mygirlsquad