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Called To Be the First...


A 19-year old student randomly approaches one of the 5 food stations in her college cafeteria hoping for a good meal, only to sit down, take a bite, and experience sometimes happy and sometimes “unhappy surprises.”[1] This went on for months, because unlike the majority of us, this young woman could not see the posted menu nor hear its contents if they were read. Eventually, she decided to “speak up,” only to receive criticism from the cafeteria manager and feelings of defeat.

This experience was a turning point in her life. She realized she needed to do something rather than “just deal”[2] as she had done many times before. She had a vision of something better for those who came after her. So, she educated herself on the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) and returned to that cafeteria manager armed with the knowledge of her rights as a disabled person. That victory served as the launching pad for finding her true purpose and passion to advocate for others with disabilities. And in 2013, Haben Girma became the first deafblind person to graduate from Harvard Law School. She went on to be named a “White House Champion of Change by President Obama, receive the Helen Keller Achievement Award, and a spot on Forbes 30 Under 30.”[3] She currently travels the globe educating others on the benefits of accessibility and inclusion for people with disabilities.

Haben Girma defied the odds by “resisting society’s low expectations and choosing to create her own pioneering story.”[4] And you know what…so can you!


  1. [1]Girma, Haben. Why I Work to Remove Access Barriers for Students with Disabilities. TEDx Talks. YouTube, February 28, 2014. Accessed July 30, 2018. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mvoj-ku8zk0&vl=en [2]Ibid. [3]Girma, Haben. About Haben. Haben Girma. Accessed July 30, 2018. https://habengirma.com/ [4] Ibid.

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