Meet Harvard Law School's First Deaf-Blind Graduate
Nov 19, 2015
Haben Girma may be the first deaf-blind student to graduate from Harvard Law School, but her disability has not hindered her awe-inspiring success.
Born in California as an Eritrean-American, Girma's mother fled Eritrea in the early 1980s to secure a better life for her family.
Throughout her schooling experience in the U.S., Girma was able to receive the necessary accommodations to aid her learning, including accessible technology tools, thanks to the American Disabilities Act. Girma's elder brother is also deaf-blind and was prohibited from the same resources back in their home country of Eritrea.
Despite her disability, Girma has already managed to make an impact in the world of law and beyond, at the young age of 27. In her TED talk featured below, Girma begins by listing off the various stereotypes associated with lawyers.
"These images are so strongly embedded in our culture," she explained. "Public service lawyers are changing what it means to be a lawyer. These people are who work and advocate for communities they love. For some of these lawyers, personal experiences fuel the desire to put an end to widespread injustice."
Now, an accomplished attorney who advocates for the civil rights of those with disabilities, Girma has traveled all around the country to speak about her experience, including the recent opportunity to give the opening address at the White House for the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) where she met President Barack Obama.
"Thank you Haben for making sure students with disabilities have access to a world class education just as you have," Obama said at the event.
Girma's resume of impressive accomplishments include a J.D. from Harvard, and her B.A., magna cum laude, from Lewis and Clark College.
Trailblazing activist and civil rights attorney currently works for the Disability Rights advocates law firm in Sacramento where she fights for others to gain access to their rights under the ADA.
Watch her TEDXBaltimore talk below.
Photo Credit: Instagram