My name is Gabriella Mendonca and I am a digital content creator. A singer. A college student majoring in communications in digital media. A daughter.
This is my story – because my disability does not define who I am.
I was born with vision, but lost my sight at the age of 18 months due to a tumor on my optic nerve. Losing my vision has never stopped me from achieving my goals and chasing after my dreams. I have always attended mainstream schools instead of the schools created for blind students. My mom wanted to ensure my success by integrating me with students that had vision.
This decision and my ambition has allowed me to excel in life and attend college like others my age.
Define Me By My Dreams
It was instilled in me to focus on a great education, but my family quickly realized that I was talented.
I started to sing at a young age and even learned to play the piano by the age of 5. Singing has become a passion of mine, especially after I completed my singing and piano lessons at The Lighthouse. Growing up, I attended multiple programs for the blind, where I was able to grow as a person and learn more about how to adapt in the world without vision. I learned life skills such as cooking, how to apply for jobs and O&M skills.
I attended a performing arts high school to continue to build my skills in singing. I graduated with top grades and a more developed musical talent. I am currently attending Saint Francis College in Brooklyn – and this has made my mom very proud.
My mom has been my rock throughout my whole life. She has sacrificed her dreams to care for me and make sure that I strive to achieve my goals. My mother has always been determined and she does everything as a single parent. Mom has always made it her goal to make sure that my siblings and I are successful in life. My mom has made me the person that I am today because of her unconditional love and support. My family has never limited me, but encouraged me to strive to achieve my goals. My family’s love and support has made me stronger and has given me the chance to step out of my comfort zone in order to grow as a person without vision.
My challenges have made me stronger and allowed me to become confident. I may have lost my vision, but I never lost sight of my goals. I am proud to be a blind young woman chasing after my dreams and breaking down barriers.