Jiang Mengnan, a 26-year-old girl with severe hearing loss, made her way into one of China's most prestigious universities, gaining wide attention and appreciation from web users.
Through lip reading and self-study, Jiang has been accepted as a PhD candidate by Tsinghua University after finishing her master's degree at Jilin University.
Born into a family of the Yao ethnic group in Yizhang county in Central China's Hunan province, Jiang entered a world of sheer silence at the age of 6 due to the use of drugs that were toxic to her ears, according to the Yangtze Evening Post.
Learning to talk with others
Not being able to hear and speak, the very first challenge for Jiang was learning how to communicate with others to better adapt to society.
Jiang's parents, both middle school teachers, taught her to learn vocalization by putting her hands on their throats, in an attempt to show Jiang the vibration of their vocal cords.
They also taught Jiang lip reading while reading pinyin. She would carefully observe the changing shapes of people's lips when pronouncing words to discern the formation of each syllable.
Learning to pronounce one single syllable takes at least a thousand times of practice. However, different people can have different lip movements, which in turn adds to the learning difficulty.
"When it comes to new friends, I always need a few days to get acquainted with their mouth movements," said Jiang.
Keeping up with the grades
Jiang's hearing loss also impeded her from smoothly keeping up with classes at school. It took her some time before she could finally understand her fast-talking teachers.
She was one year behind her peers at elementary school. To make up the gap, Jiang spent a whole summer vacation learning math with her father and English and Chinese with her mother. Through the joint efforts of her family, she succeeded in skipping the 5th grade.
In the college entrance exam, she successfully enrolled in Pharmacy School at Jilin University with a high score of 615 marks. She chose to study life science because she hopes to "contribute all my life to the health of humans".
During her college days, she was a volunteer at the special education school in her hometown, helping children with visual or hearing impairments.
All challenges are gifts
When asked about her personality, Jiang said, "I am optimistic, cheerful and intermittently discouraged." Friends also said she was easy-going and accessible.
She said she was very grateful to the teachers who patiently answered her questions, and also very grateful to the classmates and friends who had accompanied her on the journey of learning. "My parents are like the lighthouse on the road, giving me directions and the courage to continue," she said.
"For people who are deaf, like me, I want to tell them that we don't have to feel inferior because of our flaws. Although God closed a door for us, he will certainly open a window for us in other places as long as we work hard enough. We can do as much as the healthy, and maybe we can do better!" said Jiang Mengnan.