Vaciliza has been a member of the New England Consortium on Deafblindness for many years and has been an active participant in various programs run through NEC, including the annual transition to work program (Pre-Employment Transition Services, Pre-ETS). Vaciliza is a friendly face to all who know her, always ready to greet people with a smile, and is an incredibly hard worker. Vaciliza generously agreed to share her experiences as a recent graduate with vision and hearing loss on the NEC blog.
Hi Vaciliza, you recently had a huge achievement, your high school graduation. How did it feel to graduate high school?
V: There are no words to explain that feeling, the entire year I was excited to graduate. I feel very proud of myself, because even with all of the struggles and working night shifts [while] going to school tired, I did it.
How would you describe your high school experience?
V: I really enjoyed it, especially my math class. I had an audiologist and a vision teacher [at school]. They were nice, especially Miss Christina, my audiologist. She made sure everything was okay for me in class.
What would you like to do in the future?
V: I am still trying to figure out what I would like to do. I want to take a class that can help me get a job. [Maybe] like being a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), although I do not want to do that. I like law, but I don’t want my life to be very complicated, I want to be a normal person. Before, I didn’t want to go to college. Now, I am feeling like I could even go to college if I want.
What has your work experience been?
V: Right now my work is closed, but I was working at [a restaurant]. I do not want to go back to that work, I want to do something different. I love working in offices, I hope to find a job like that.
What are some work skills that you have or have learned?
V: I speak Cape Verdean Creole, it is my mother tongue. I also speak Portuguese, [because] I learned it at school. I can write in it. I also learned a little bit of French, [because] I learned it in school for two years. I also speak Spanish, and the thing is, my coworker didn’t believe me at first. I never went to school to learn Spanish, I learned it from working with [Spanish speakers]. After working with [Spanish speakers] for two years, I understand everything they say. I understand it better than English. I was interested in learning sign language, and learned a few signs, but I would like to learn more.
What do you wish other people had told you about high school before you started? Is there anything you wish you had known?
V: That you should do your best. Nobody told me that, and I didn’t do my best. Right now, I am helping some of my friend’s with their [school] work and I am feeling like I didn’t do my best in school. I wish I [did] that.
Is there anything you would like to share with other students who have vision and hearing loss?
V: [The] most important thing is resilience. I have had my hearing aids for five years. While I was in school, I didn’t have my hearing aids because [they were] broken. When I came to the United States for school, nobody knew I had a hearing loss. My teachers told me that I was failing my classes and it made me feel bad.
Even if I [could] read lips it would be hard for me because people were speaking English. I had to learn a whole new attitude. When they discovered [my hearing loss], I got my hearing aids and it turned out to be easier. After, I sat at the front of the class and teachers made sure to ask me if I could hear.
Thank you for sharing your story with us, Vaciliza!