Yesterday was my graduation.
My second graduation, for my honours I completed last year.
It was the most challenging and rewarding year for me.
It was challenging because I really struggled with my complex identities of being the only hijab wearing Muslim, with hearing loss at a prestigious Australian university. There were times, including at the graduation yesterday, where I felt like I did not belong or did not deserve to be here and eventually graduating with honours.
But then I thought, even if I’m the only one, the only visible Muslim with a hijab and the invisible “deaf” girl, I should be proud of that. I should be proud of the fact that someone who is Muslim and more importantly, someone who has a hearing loss managed to get this far.
I should be proud because hopefully I can inspire others, so that one day there are many more Muslim girls with hijab or people with hearing loss or other disabilities and impairments, aim high and achieve their dreams.
That’s why it’s also rewarding.
It’s so rewarding because as someone with hearing loss, you rarely find people who have the dedication, motivation and drive to push through all the barriers and challenges and manage to attain one of the highest levels of education.
This is also what my honours thesis was about. While I researched the identity and lived experiences of Australian, Lebanese Muslim women with hearing loss, my own identity and lived experiences speak beyond the 20,000 word thesis I wrote. It is also the experiences of other people like myself who can and cannot achieve their dreams because of their background and mixed identity, that drives me to do what I’m doing, and I find that so rewarding to be able to break stereotypes and exceed expectations.
At my graduation yesterday, while I was celebrating and feeling proud of my own achievements, I couldn’t help but feel emotional and shed a few silent tears.
Because no one truly knows how hard it was to get here. But more importantly, no one can truly understand the effort and struggle it took.
Even though my thesis and honours year opened up so many doors for me and opened up so many possibilities and opportunities for both my research career and silent signs page, I couldn’t help but also be grateful for this challenging and rewarding journey.
And it would not have been possible without the support and assistance from my family, my supervisor, my friends, my fellow honours cohorts, and everyone who contributed to my honours thesis or my silent signs journey.
Most importantly, all Praise Belong to God, the most beneficial and most merciful for He surely does not burden a soul more than it can bear.