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June 22, 2003

Silence doesn't slow teen achiever

From: Lorain Morning Journal, OH - Jun 22, 2003

BOB ZOELLNER , Morning Journal Correspondent

SANDUSKY -- Megan Kirby, a 2003 graduate of Sandusky High School, has an impressive resume.

She finished her high school career ranked 19th out of 295 in her class. She was a member of the National Honor Society, a four-year letter-winner in cross-country and swimming, and a three-year letter-winner in track.

She won several student of the month awards her senior year and earned the Career and Technical Student of the Year award in 2003.

She was a homecoming attendant in her sophomore year, the girls cross-county MVP in 2001 and 2002, and a varsity captain and swimming MVP her senior year.

She was an honor roll student all four years in high school and this past May, took part in a Business Professionals of America national competition in Dallas, Texas, earning a third place finish in Desktop Publishing.

Megan is also deaf.

Deaf since birth, Megan has had to overcome the obstacle of not being able to hear in a hearing world. After seeing her list of accomplishments, it's evident she has managed just fine. ''I try not to put myself down just because I am deaf,'' Megan said.

''I don't pressure myself that I can't do everything like other normal kids can do. Everyone can do anything they want to do, not just because of their handicap or other serious problem they have.

''I just want to show everyone that they can reach their dreams if they try hard and don't give up.''

The 17-year old Megan plans to go to The Ohio State University in the fall, joining her older brother Tom at the school. She attended elementary school in Huron and Milan, and then McCormick Middle School in Huron before heading to Sandusky for high school.

Sandusky had a hearing-impaired program while Huron did not and the chance to be with other deaf kids, including her brother, made the transition easier. After taking ''hearing impaired English'' until her sophomore year, Megan switched to a regular English class at the insistence of her parents, Tom and Kathy, to better prepare for college.

For the last two years, she was part of the Computer/Business Communication Tech Prep Program at Sandusky High School, finishing that program with a 4.0 grade point average.

''Megan is an example of someone who doesn't let her handicap get in the way of her pursuit of academic excellence,'' said Helen Scheufler, her Tech Prep teacher. ''She is truly a role model for her fellow classmates.''

Scheufler explained how a student in another one of her classes, who was required to do a presentation on a person who had influenced his life, picked Megan. ''He was impressed that she didn't let her handicap get her down,'' Scheufler said. ''So many kids say, I can't do this,''' Scheufler added. ''I can't isn't in her vocabulary. Whatever she wants to do, she does.''

While at OSU, Megan plans to study either deaf education or graphic design/business. Her role model for success is 1995 Miss America Heather Whitestone, who is also deaf.

''Her doctors did not think she would pass the third grade and she proved them wrong,'' Megan said. ''And that is what I want to do.''

If the past is any indication, whatever she tackles in the future should also find success. Scheufler noted how Megan was even part of the synchronized swimming team, although she couldn't hear the songs.

''She's done so many phenomenal things,'' Scheufler said. ''It's been a great experience having her.''

Megan's friends echo the same sentiments. Megan Fogg, also a 2003 Sandusky High graduate and bound for The Ohio State University in the fall, will room on the same floor as Kirby. The two became best friends after meeting in their freshman year at cross-country.

They were known as the ''Megan Connection,'' at school. ''She's been one of my closest friends since our freshman year,'' Megan Fogg said. ''I've never met someone like her. She always cares about everybody else. She's so open and friendly, so smart and very pretty.''

In a world that requires good communication to get along and get things accomplished, it would be easy to understand if Megan had a difficult go of it. However, being deaf hasn't hindered her and Megan is determined to keep it that way. Just ask her.

''I love to collect quotes,'' she said. ''One of my favorite quotes was, ÔOne of the most important things in communication is to hear what is not being said.'''

©The Morning Journal 2003