Conquering the art of learning

Angela Melero

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Photo credit: Angela Melero, Staff Reporter

Josh Dominguez is learning to be a man of many words. It’s hard to believe the bright and chatty deaf studies major ever struggled with anything, including school.

Dominguez grew up with a learning disability that affected his auditory processing.

“I don’t fully grasp things the first time they are said to me,” he said. “ I have to have things repeated to me more than once. It also didn’t help that I am more of a visual learner.”

The disability prevented Dominguez from having the childhood his peers experienced. While his classmates worried about school dances and football games, he was meeting with numerous doctors and specialists in an attempt to find a solution.

“Life was a game for me for a long time,” Dominguez said. “I had to practice and train myself to learn.”

Dominguez spent most of his time sharing a classroom with no more than 12 other people, where he was able to get the special attention needed for his learning curve.

After years of attending a small school with a more intimate learning environment, the transition to a public university was not an easy one for Dominguez.

“It was the first time I had to find a way to learn the material on my own,” he said. “The professors would breeze through the lessons and I had to figure it all out by myself.”

Instead of relying on his family and friends for answers, Dominguez, who entered his freshman year as a computer science major, took it upon himself to find a solution.

“I had to make more of an effort to learn,” he said. “I joined study groups and took advantage of my professors’ office hours. I had to explain to them my learning disability. They were all very supportive.”

Dominguez said he struggled to form relationships with his peers.

“I came into my freshman year with no friends,” he said. “ I wanted to find a group that had the same desires as me.”

The soft-spoken and reserved Dominguez abandoned his introverted ways and bonded with classmates and friends from his study groups, even taking interest in various clubs on campus.

One of the friendships he cultivated was with a deaf classmate who introduced him to sign language. He quickly became more interested in CSUN’s deaf studies program, enrolling in classes and getting involved in the department’s clubs and organizations.

“The deaf community on campus has its own bond that is so strong,” said Dominguez, who recently switched his major from computer science to deaf studies.

“I realized (computer science) was not for me,” he said. “To be honest, I was bored by it.”

The son of a well-known immigration lawyer, the 20-year-old has proven that his heart for humanity is a family trait.

“I think the feel for helping others has always been in me,” Dominguez said. “However, I have definitely gotten inspiration from my mom.”

After struggling for years to master and conquer the art of learning, Dominguez now plans to take on the task of teaching by minoring in English.

“I’ve watched interpreters in action and it boggles my mind,” he said. “I would love to be an interpreter for a school or be a teacher.”

He said he still has a lot to learn and is looking forward to it. Whatever career path he decides on, Dominguez will still have a story to tell and says he hopes students in a similar situation will not allow a disability to hinder their education.

“College shouldn’t be a setback,” he said. “A professor once told me, ‘Learning is a skill, and no one can take it from you.’”