Shaitaisha Winston, Doctoral Candidate, Gallaudet University

Shaitaisha Winston was born in Houston, Texas. A product of the inner city school system, she knew she wanted to impact the world in some miraculous way. She just didn't know how.

Stemming from a family of educators, her natural choice was to pursue a degree in Education. So, at Prairie View A&M University (PVAMU), that is precisely what she did. She entered the hallowed doors of the Education Department eager to sign up for their Deaf Education Program. At the time, Shaitaisha had neither met a Deaf individual, nor had any contact with the Deaf community. Yet, there was an innate desire that she had to serve this particular community. Although PVAMU did not have a Deaf Education Program, she majored in Special Education with a desire to pursue a Graduate Degree in Deaf Education.

While Shaitaisha found her undergraduate program very supportive, her experience at the graduate level was slightly different. She was one of the few minorities enrolled in this graduate program. Her classmates' experiences and backgrounds were extremely different than her own. But despite some of the obstacles that surfaced, she was determined to teach Deaf children. This goal was solidified with one of her initial contacts with inner city Deaf students.

As she entered the classroom, the students were shocked a woman of color would be their teacher. One of the students, after class, approached Shaitaisha and conveyed she had never had an African-American teacher or any other type of minority teacher. At that point, Shaitaisha knew exactly how she was going to change the world. Not only by being a teacher, but also by being a mentor to these inner city students she could indeed impact the world in a miraculous way.

"Every man is limited in life by three things: (1) the knowledge in his mind; (2) the worth of his character; (3) and the principles upon which he builds his life. These things shape a man from within for better or for worse..." This quote was forwarded to Shaitaisha by one of her former colleagues at PVAMU. Little did she know how this statement would be applied to her life.

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