By Jaelon Jackson
School of Social Work
In an amazing achievement that signifies a significant step in higher education, Lei-Sea Sky, a student pursuing majors in both social work and political science and three minors, Diversity Studies, Prelaw, and Globalization, Internationalization, Localization, and Translation at the University of Texas at Arlington and a Deaf individual herself, has made history by becoming the university's first-ever Deaf Student Mentor.
Lei-Sea Sky has not only excelled in her academic pursuits but is now breaking down barriers and paving the way for equal access at UTA. Her journey is not just a story of academic success but one of overcoming personal challenges while advocating for accessibility.
"As a Deaf individual, I've faced unique challenges, and that's given me a profound understanding of the barriers Deaf and Hard of Hearing students encounter in higher education," Lei-Sea Sky said.
Lei-Sea's experiences navigating the hearing world have been uniquely challenging. However, her experiences have only strengthened her resolve to promote equal access within UTA.
Currently pursuing a degree in social work, Lei-Sea's personal journey as a Deaf student has given her a profound understanding of the barriers faced by Deaf and Hard of Hearing students in higher education.
Fully immersing herself in the college lifestyle, she lives on campus, participates in clubs and organizations and engages enthusiastically in various events. Her dedication to her academic pursuits and campus life made her stand out as a student who was committed to breaking down barriers and advocating for equal access, particularly for those who, like her, rely on sign language and visual communication.
“Lei-Sea is an excellent student who cares about the world around her,” Social Work Adjunct Assistant Professor Antwan C. Williams said.
Lei-Sea's experiences at UTA have inspired her to take on the pioneering role of being the university's first-ever Deaf Student Mentor. In this role, she is not only a mentor but a trailblazer who is actively working to open doors for Deaf and Hard of Hearing students at UTA, both on-campus and online.
"It's not just about mentorship; it's about ensuring that Deaf students receive equal access to all aspects of university life. I want to advocate for the accessibility that the Deaf community rightfully deserves," Lei-Sea emphasized. Her responsibilities include addressing the unique challenges and resource needs of this student population.
Lei-Sea's role extends beyond mentorship. She collaborates with various departments and assembles teams of faculty and staff to ensure Deaf students at UTA receive equal access to all aspects of university life. Additionally, she works with external teams to enhance accessibility in education for Deaf students, advocating for the accessibility the Deaf community rightfully deserves.
“Lei-Sea has become a strong advocate for social justice, and she has been instrumental in helping UTA strengthen its support services program for deaf and hard of hearing students,” Williams said. “UTA already has an excellent reputation for its program and Lei-Sea working with the staff will help make it even better,” Williams said.
Lei-Sea Sky's journey is an inspiring testament to the power of determination and the pursuit of a more accessible and equitable world for all students, regardless of their hearing abilities. Her dedication to breaking down barriers and advocating for equal access is an inspiration to the UTA community and beyond.
"I am not only a trailblazer but a symbol of progress at UTA, and my appointment as the first Deaf Student Mentor is a historic milestone in the realm of equal access," Lei-Sea concluded.