The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Leaving the past behind and focusing on the future

Photo credit: Jackie Holmes, Staff Reporter

Life is not always easy, but that hasn’t stopped deaf studies major Afelda Aguilera, 20, from living her life one day at a time.

Growing up in Northern California in a rough neighborhood, Aguilera got involved with the wrong crowd in high school.

Despite difficulties growing up in that environment, she joined student government and leadership in her junior year of high school. That’s when things began to change for her.

“I just said to myself (that) I can’t do this anymore,” Aguilera said. “ I need to go to college.”

She came to CSUN not knowing about the deaf studies program. She first was enrolled as a communication studies major, then switched to sociology on the recommendation from her sister. Although she liked sociology, she knew it was not for her.

After hearing stories about social work from those in the field, she decided that although she loved helping people, she just had to say no at some point.

When Aguilera went to space camp in 8th grade, it was her first experience into the deaf world and culture.

It was there that she saw a woman using her hands to communicate. Aguilera was not even paying attention to the presentation because of her captivation of the translator, she said. That is the moment when she realized there was someone there who was deaf.

She befriended the boy named Charlie, who taught her the alphabet in American Sign Language (ASL) that summer. He recently passed away due to bone cancer, but before he died he wrote Aguilera a letter that she still has with her today.

“He definitely inspired me and definitely helped me,” Aguilera said. “He is with me every day.”

Because he was deaf, Aguilera wanted to remember him by doing something that was relatable and in remembrance of Charlie.

“A lot of people think deaf people have a disability, but no, they are human and they simply just can’t hear,” Aguilera said. “They do the same things; they mess up, they laugh, they get in trouble, they get recognized like every other human would.”

Before changing her major to deaf studies, she also meet men in the Kappa Sigma Fraternity, a fraternity that has quite a few deaf members.

“I needed to communicate with them one way or another, and pen and paper was not a way to communicate with them,” she said.

She has since learned more than just the alphabet in ASL, and it is now her major.

Although Aguilera’s has gone through a few rough patches in life, that hasn’t stopped her from having a positive attitude. Having a near death experience five years ago helped her realize that life is precious, and for her it is easier to live one day at a time.

“I don’t think about the future and I don’t think about the past,” Aguilera said. “I am here.”

She said a lot of people she talks to say that their life sucks or they are going through rough times, but Aguilera is satisfied with her life for now.

“I am not going through that,” Aguilera said. “I do have problems of my own but I don’t let it get in the way of what I need to do. I can’t let that disturb me from my education because one day this will definitely help me in the long run.”

Her advice to someone going through what she went through is  just to rethink everything.

“There are people out there who love you and support you and want to help you if you let them,” Aguilera said.

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