Life Lessons

July 10, 2003
Life Lessons
By Blessed Sacrament staff/ SUN contributing writers
SUN photo(s) Paul Finch

When Bishop Grimes’ senior Elizabeth Tricase graduated from high school in June, she had a list of accomplishments to be proud of. She is a member of the National Honor Society, a four-sport athlete and she even managed to find time to volunteer helping children. Those who were cheering when Elizabeth received her diploma might not have known the poised and confident young woman has overcome challenges to become the exceptional student that she is today. Elizabeth was born deaf. At four years old, she received a cochlear implant, an electronic device designed to help severely hearing impaired and deaf individuals, that enabled her to escape from a world of silence. “The cochlear implant changed my life,” said Elizabeth.

Last year, Elizabeth shared her story with the world for the 2002 Gallaudet National Essay Contest. The contest is sponsored annually by Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., a school for deaf and hearing impaired as well as hearing individuals. The topic was “What Hearing People Should Know.” Competing with hundreds of students from across the country, Elizabeth received commendable recognition for her essay that sent a big message to the hearing world. “There are many things that I would like to tell hearing people. Deaf and hard of hearing people don’t want to be isolated; we want to be treated fairly. We want to be a part of the world we live in. We may be deaf, but we have a lot to say,” Elizabeth wrote in her essay, which was published last October in The Post-Standard.

“When people speak directly to our [deaf and hard of hearing people’s] interpreter, this is rude. They should speak to us through the interpreter,” she continued. According to Elizabeth, since she does not have an interpreter, it is important that she is her own advocate. She is not afraid to be assertive and ask questions. It is this attitude that has enabled her to excel in the classroom. Elizabeth is always willing to go the extra mile to succeed, noted teacher Susan Boone. “Elizabeth really is an ideal student. Her challenge has not held her back at all, but rather helped her to get in the thick of things,” said Boone. “She is very conscientious and motivated to do well.”

While at Bishop Grimes, Elizabeth volunteered her time at the Children’s Village at BOCES in Syracuse, working with deaf children and children with special needs. According to Boone, Elizabeth is a well-round young adult that the children can look up to. “Elizabeth is a role model for kids with conditions like hers. Though she might have special needs, she is a teenager just like everyone else who doesn’t want to be treated differently. The kids whom she works with see her positive attitude,” said Boone. “I try to show deaf children and their parents that being deaf doesn’t limit what they can do,” added Elizabeth.

A strong circle of support, including her parents and late grandfather who passed away in January, has helped her to accomplish all that she has set out to do, said Elizabeth. When she was asked to write about “A Hero” for the 2003 Gallaudet National Essay Contest, Elizabeth chose her grandfather. Once again, her essay received recognition –– this time with the “Judge’s Choice Award.”

Elizabeth said that her grandfather instantly came to mind when thinking of a hero because of what a remarkable man he was. “He was a quiet and humble man whom I admired for his character and his achievements. I aspire to be like him,” said Elizabeth. She recalled how he was always there for her and her family. “My grandfather was the kind of person who would put everyone else before him. He would always go out of his way for us, even if it was something simple like picking my brother and me up from school if my mother couldn’t,” explained Elizabeth.

This fall, when Elizabeth heads to SUNY Cortland where she plans to study physical education, she will undoubtedly carry memories of her grandfather with her. Filled with his inspiration and made stronger from the challenges she has overcome, Elizabeth is confident that she can face whatever the future brings. “I disagree with the idea that being hearing impaired is a disability that limits my life,” said Elizabeth. “Overcoming challenges has made me the person that I am today.”

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