DEFEATING ALL ODDS, DREAM COMES TRUE (IN JAMAICA) : Deaf girl, 18 y-o Amakeda Wallen heads to UTech ....Entering on a $5-million scholarship from the institution. Wallen boasts seven CXC subjects and one CAPE

BY JEDIAEL CARTER Staff reporter carterj@jamaicaobserver.com  Sunday, September 11, 2016    
Matriculating to the tertiary level for some is a tremendous feat. For Amakeda Wallen it is even more special.
Defeating all odds, the 18-year-old has become the first deaf person to be invited to read for a degree at the University of Technology (UTECH).
“I started this year, it has been good so far,” said Wallen who communicates through sign language.
Entering on a $5-million scholarship from the institution, Wallen will pursue a Bachelor’s degree in business management at the College of Business and Management (COBAM) which will cover her tuition and accommodation for her tenure (four years) at the institution. “I feel really good about it. I think I can make a difference,” Wallen said of her accomplishments.
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Acting President at the University of Technology Professor
 Colin Gyles (right) interacts with his new student
Amakeda Wallen (centre) while a representative from Flow looks on.
(Lionel Rookwood)
“I hope that some day other children from the Lister Mair School will be able to enter the University of Technology,” she told the Jamaica Observer.
Earlier this year, Carol Williams, Social Studies teacher at the high school, told the Sunday Observer that deaf students rarely matriculate to university despite their capabilities.
She said that though the students are competent, the cost to acquire interpretation services become problematic if the students are accepted.
“The school cannot provide interpretation services to a student who matriculates to the university level and most of our students, their families would not be able to afford the cost of interpreting services for them in university, so that’s a challenge,” Williams stated at the time.
Dean of COBAM, Dr Paul Golding told the Sunday Observer that though a strategy has been implemented now to assist her, she will need additional funding to finance interpretation services as the scholarship does not cover that expense.
Amakeda Wallen (left) receives a new ASUS notebook
 from Associate Dean at the College of Business and
 Management at the University of Technology,
 Dr Claudette Williams-Myers. (Lionel Rookwood)
While admitting that it isn’t a permanent structure, Golding noted that daily, a group of persons assist Wallen in classes with interpreting. He further implored capable parties to invest in the student’s life and assist her to realise her dream.
“You know, she is going to need interpretation throughout her entire college experience not just in the classroom. So if she goes to the nurse or to get some food, she will need to be assisted and the scholarship does not cover that,” the dean stated.
When asked whether she was assimilating comfortably into the system, Wallen said: “It’s been really good, I have a very great group and I feel good; sometimes they (persons who assist her) treat me like a baby and they hover over me, but that’s good.”
In addition to overcoming her disability, Wallen has also challenged the notion that wards of the state do not matriculate past secondary school. A former resident at the Maxfield Park Children’s Home, Wallen boasts seven CXC subjects and one CAPE. more

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