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An Unlikely Pursuit: How a Girl with a Speech Impediment Became a Translator

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I am six years old. Sitting there at my kitchen table surrounded by books and flashcards, listening to my mother repeat different sounds over and over. I just couldn’t seem to get them right. Once again she would raise the flashcard for me to read. I would try again to no avail. This was the picture of my early childhood and how I would remember it because of my speech impediment.

Some days I would make a small progression. And others seemed to take me in reverse. It never bothered me, the way I spoke. As a kid, one never concerns their self with such things. And I was never alone. Meeting children my age with the same likeness gave me motivation. We spoke our own language. A language only those like us could interpret.  

The older I got, and the vaster my vision, the more aware I became. Though conflicted by the unease that words brought me each day, I couldn’t suppress my ambitions. With or without the perfect verbal communication, I would still move on. But that didn’t mean I would quit trying.

With consistent diligence, I worked harder than ever to improve my speech. In the process, I discovered a love for what I never thought I would: language. Communication had always been a confrontation for me. Perhaps that is why I found it so intriguing; I am always up for a task.

By the time I was fourteen, I no longer had a speech impediment. My hard work had paid off. What I once viewed as a great difficulty, had now become a driving force towards a vision I had gained. Words are no longer an obstacle for me to overcome. Instead, each day I look forward to discovering new words—and not just words in my own native language. My desire is to be understood by everyone and everyone I meet to be friend with whom I can communicate. 

I am now pursuing a degree to become a translator, and I will start my first year of college in the fall. I have found that what we might think to be one of our greatest challenges, almost always leads to something better. And if it doesn't, it will certainly build us as individuals.

People often ask how I came to want to study the specific language I am, and while my story explains why I want to be a translator, it doesn’t tell how I decided on that language. But that is the thing. There is no amazing story to my decision. And while sometimes we discover passions through our situations, even more poetically our passions seem to appear instantaneous, without any impressive story behind them. Just a simple fondness that leads to a pursuit of a bigger dream.

It is unlikely that a girl with a speech impediment would become a translator. But not impossible. Everyday the improbable happens. And for that I am thankful.

Hannah Haney is an eighteen-year-old from Nashville, TN. Through hard work and speech therapy with her mother, she overcame a speech impediment, graduated high school early at the age of seventeen, and is now a college student pursuing a degree to become a translator.