Partially deaf UC Merced student hopes to inspire others with graduation success

MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) -- A graduating student at UC Merced is hoping his triumph over adversity will inspire others to do the same.

Ya Yang is graduating from the college on Friday, completing a three-year tenure at the school and majoring in public health and psychology. He was able to graduate early despite a unique challenge.

"My right ear I can hear 60% of what a normal person hears... my left ear can only hear 30% of what a normal person can," he said. He grew up in a refugee camp in Northern Thailand, where he says a sickness led to his hearing loss.

"It's challenging going through a college in general," said Sidra Goldman-Mellor, one of Yang's professors. "Especially in such a short period of time to have this additional challenge on top of everything else is really incredible."

After graduation, Yang plans to pursue a career in public health policy to help communities in need, much like the refugee camp he grew up in. He hopes his story inspires others to move past their challenges.

"Once you set your mind to something, you just work hard and you'll be able to do it," he said. "Regardless of what others say, don't listen to them, just keep pushing yourself."
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