Black excellence

Haben Girma is the first deaf-blind student to graduate from Harvard Law School

BREAKING BARRIERS: Harma Grima

THIS IS Haben Grima, a disability rights graduate and the first deaf-blind student to graduate from Harvard Law School.

The 28-year-old was honoured by former President Obama at the White House last year on the the 25th anniversary celebration of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

She gave a moving speech about her journey and her work to push for increased accessibility and acceptance for disabled Americans.

Born in the U.S. after her mother escaped Eritrea as a refugee, Girma grew up in California learning Braille.

Growing up in the US school system, she benefited from accessible technology, such as a digital Braille device – something her elder brother, who is also deafblind, was denied in Eritrea.

Haben, who graduated in 2013, said she decided to go to law school to have the “flexibility to do a variety of things”.

She told WUNC: “A lot of my friends who were ahead of me in college — graduating seniors — were struggling to find work. So I realised I needed to further my education and a law degree would give me the flexbility to do a variety of things.”

She said that her limited vision and hearing allowed her to “develop strengths” in “analysing and problem-solving.”

Now she is working as a lawyer to try to  challenge expectations of people with disabilities.

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