Over the past week I was able to talk and get to know Lejla. I was definitely nervous to talk with someone through an online class. I’m very glad that I was able to get out of my comfort zone and learn about someone else and share things about myself.
Lejla and I decided to communicate over text messages because it would be easiest to have information about each other saved. This was extremely helpful because we were able to communicate at any time and if questions or ideas popped up, we could just share right away.
Lejla is a sophomore at GSU College Clarkston campus. She is planning to get an Associates Degree and then transfer to GSU downtown Atlanta to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education with a minor in American Sign Language. Right now, she is fully online and taking five classes this semester. Her favorite subject is Sociology because she was surprised about all the information that she learned during the class.
Lejla’s three academic words are: emotional, advocate and prepared. She told me that emotional was the first one that came to mind because she was born deaf with Profound Sensorineural Hearing loss. At 7, she underwent surgery to receive a cochlear implant on her right ear. Throughout grade school, she was delayed with speaking. Her parents are from Bosnia, so English was already difficult. Lejla had a speech therapist 4 times a week for 7 years and had a deaf and hard of hearing teacher one hour everyday. She expressed that it was emotional because school and being social is hard due to understanding others being difficult, or asking a teacher or fellow classmate to repeat themselves. She used advocate to describe her academic self because there have been numerous challenges thrown her way, but it keeps her being able to speak out for herself and to never be ashamed of asking for help. It has encouraged her to never give up and to stand up for herself. The last word was prepared because she feels like she does a great job staying on top of her assignments and she loves being able to get ahead on her work.
I learned that her favorite reading that we have done so far is the most recent one with the first generation college student. She really enjoyed this one because she related to it. She is actually the first generation from her family to continue her education at a collegiate level. Lejla being in college and on a pathway to graduate is a huge deal to her family because her parents lived in Bosnia. While her parents were in high school, there was a war. Her mom was a nurse and her dad was a soldier. They were never able to finish college. She told me how similar her story is to the one that we read.
I asked her if she had someone who was her biggest influence or mentor. Lejla told me that she had a few mentors. Her mentors are her mom, dad and Randi. Randi was someone who helped her parents understand the whole process of deaf situations. Randi is a second mom. Randi works for parents whose children are deaf. She understands the process of the difficulty being deaf and always tells Lejla how smart she is in her own way. Randi taught Lejla that it is okay to ask someone to describe or explain something and to ask someone to repeat what they said. Her main mentor is her mom who never gave up on her. Her mom is a kind, positive person who always provides advice and taught her how to stand up for herself. Seeing how much her mom has done for her shows Lejla how much she is cared about and that she will always make her mom proud.
The last thing we talked about was in-person versus online school. Lejla enjoyed being in person in high school because she was able to get involved in many activities. She was the co-captain of the volleyball team and chief editor of the yearbook. With school, she prefers online because she is able to pay attention and catch what the teacher is saying. In person she would have to ask several questions out loud in front of her classmates and ask for extra explanation, so that she could make sure she was understanding the material. With online, everything is on the computer. Online school allows for flexibility. Lejla is able to do school work, hang out and babysit to make money.
The conclusion from this discussion with Lejla is that every student is different. Her experiences throughout life are obviously different than mine, but gave me a different perspective on life. I complained about a lot of minor inconveniences that I had been challenged with in life, but after talking to and learning about Lejla she had to go through more challenges than I could have ever imagined. After talking to her, I realize how much of a strong person she is and I know that she will be able to accomplish anything she wants to in life.