Alanka Babb refused to allow a disability to prevent her from experiencing the finer things in life. Now she has another feat to celebrate, receiving her Ph.D.
In an essay for Insider, Babb explained overcoming a vision impairment, persevering in her native country despite its setbacks and challenges, and celebrating her move to the United States to not only receive a master’s degree but her Ph.D. shortly after.
Persevering Through It All
“I grew up in disadvantaged circumstances in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Guyana. I was born with an eye disease called macular dystrophy,” she explained in the essay. “It’s a genetic disorder that severely limits your central vision and causes progressive vision loss. There’s no cure for the condition, nor can it be fixed with glasses.”
Education was not a priority in Babb’s household due to the overriding need to provide the family with basic necessities. She was raised by her grandmother and recalled that although she was expected to attend school regularly, she was never encouraged to study or complete homework.
What’s more, the neighborhood school Babb attended could not afford teachers who were as qualified as those in areas that were more wealthy and better funded.
Her Love For Education
She also had no access to tools that would support her as a student with a disability. Yet, this did not stop Babb from excelling. Not only did she ultimately teach herself to read, thanks to borrowed books from the school’s library, but she advanced grades before moving to America in 2015 at the age of 28.
“I was skeptical about whether I could do it, though, because my eyesight had deteriorated further,” Babb wrote. “But I soon found out about the Americans with Disabilities Act, which stipulates that universities need to provide disability-support services to students.”
Taking Her Talents To The States
Thanks to this, she was given extra time for testing and access to the presentations designed by her professors prior to her classes. With the accommodations, Babb quickly thrived, and it wasn’t long before she received her master’s degree in December 2019 before beginning her Ph.D. program in January 2020.
Both programs were in the education field.
“Having a disability, growing up in an economically challenging situation, and not having the foundational learning needed for academic success can be disheartening,” Babb expressed. “Yet there’s space and opportunity in the world for us to thrive when we are willing to keep the faith, advocate for ourselves, and push to reach our academic dreams.”
Now, she’s one more degree hotter having received her Ph.D. in education.