Shaker Heights teen overcomes odds, gets full scholarship to Harvard

Posted at 9:03 PM, Jun 26, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-26 21:03:12-04

Regan Brady from Shaker Heights was born deaf. Overcoming the odds, she is getting a full scholarship to Harvard University.

She is the only girl in the U.S. to receive the Calvin Coolidge scholarship this year.

Despite her challenges, Regan said her hearing loss has not held her back in life and does not have to hold anyone back.

Her mother said she was not diagnosed until she was one year old.

“Regan was our first born, and we had no hearing loss in our immediate family whatsoever, so when she was diagnosed with the hearing loss, we were devastated,” said Sharon Brady, Regan's mom.

Sharon's worst fear when she found out her daughter was deaf was that “she could never hear us tell her we loved her.”

When Regan was almost two years old, her parents decided she should get cochlear implants.

“I participated in many, many hours of language therapy,” said Regan. “My parents were always reading to me, trying to expose me to as much sound as I could.”

While implant was a success, there was still a long road ahead.

“It's not just slapping on implants or slapping on hearing aids,” said Sharon Sandridge, Cleveland Clinic Director of Audiology. “It's also the intensive work that parents have to do at home.”

The intensive work was worth it. Regan says when she has conversations with people, most cannot even tell she was born deaf.

“Every challenge that you face can be overcome,” she said. “It's a matter of if you put your mind to something, then you will find a way to overcome it.”

In Regan's case, she did not just overcome it, she went above and beyond.

Regan not only speaks proficiently despite being deaf, but she is also a leader on her school's debate team.

“Clearly, she's exceptional and gifted, wonderful product of all the things that go right,” said Donald Goldberg, Regan's audiology specialist.

Regan is also a varsity athlete in soccer, lacrosse, cross country and swimming.

Though things have turned out well for Regan, her mother says she did not know what to expect as her daughter was growing up.

“Initially, it was us trying to get her on track to go to a mainstream pre-school,” said Sharon Brady. “Once that happened, our next goal was to get her into a regular mainstream elementary school.”

Now, Regan is going to Harvard.

“It was a conference call, so many people were on the line,” Regan said, recalling how her family got the news of her acceptance. “Soon as they told me, myself and my parents, we all started screaming. We were so excited!”

Regan says she wants to major in the social sciences field at Harvard, either in government or economics. She especially has an interest in public policies.

Most recently, she also got a second scholarship in Washington D.C. -- a presidential scholar.

According to the audiology specialists at the Cleveland Clinic, Regan is “the star of stars.”

They said she is a shining example of the potential that hearing impaired kids have with the right combination of technology and audio therapy.