by Jenny Wells, UK Public Relations
Lindsay Lash is one of those students who amazes people in her ability to balance school, sports and work; but her story is even more amazing than that.
While she is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, competing on UK’s swimming and diving team, and teaching swimming lessons in the summer, one would never guess that Lash also is living with a disability.
Lash has a moderate-to-severe hearing impairment that has been the source of many struggles for her throughout her life. Though she now benefits from wearing hearing aids and from the support of her professors and mentors, she hasn’t always been so open to receiving help.
“I briefly wore hearing aids in high school, but I stopped because I was so self-conscious,” Lash said. “I eventually taught myself how to lip read, but when I got to college that wasn’t always an option, being in large lecture halls and all.”
During her freshman year at UK, Sharon Toadvine, Lash’s UK Athletics mentor, along with swimming coach Margo Greeman, worked with her to help overcome insecurities about her hearing issue.
“Sharon and Margo have impacted my college career significantly,” Lash said. “They really helped in bringing me out of my shell and have been there for me every step of the way throughout my struggles in college, whether in academics or swimming.”
Lash, a junior from Columbus, Ohio, first became interested in UK when she was offered a swimming scholarship. After she visited campus, she was sold.
“While the swimming team and the coaches played a huge part in my decision to come to UK, I fell in love with the campus on my recruiting trip. It is the perfect size and just beautiful,” she said.
But she has another passion besides swimming. Lash has dreamed of being an elementary school teacher since she was a child, and declared a major in elementary education soon after starting UK. She was accepted into the College of Education’s competitive Teacher Education Program for Fall 2011.
“I definitely ‘played school’ when I was little,” she said. “I love children, but more importantly, I love the idea of making a difference in a child’s life. I hope to be that teacher that really had a positive impact on her students. The Teacher Education Program here is terrific, and has encouraged me even more to become a teacher.”
Even though Lash’s hearing impairment has caused difficulties, she says they have made her the person she is today. Since overcoming her insecurities and wearing her hearing aids (which she likes to refer to as “her ears”), she has allowed herself to receive a better education.
“I’ve had my struggles, yes, but it has made me who I am, and I believe I’m a stronger and more independent person today because of it,” Lash said. “People should not be afraid to ask for help. I used to be stubborn and refused to ask for help because I didn’t want to use my hearing impairment as an excuse. Sometimes everyone needs a little guidance, whether you are disabled in any way or not.”
Lash currently has one more year of swimming left, and two more years of schooling left until she graduates. She will then begin her master’s program in education.
“I’m incredibly excited to become a teacher and finally teach my own group of children.”