Jia Billadeau is a role model to her peers and others for the way she has bloomed and taken risks to expand her horizons in ways that have been wonderful to behold.
When she was only 2 years old, Jia was adopted from China. Her parents discovered her hearing loss and began working with doctors to give their daughter the tools she needed. At age 9, she underwent surgery for an auditory brainstem implant. Since then, she has used the implant to access the auditory environment while also using American Sign Language for full understanding.
Now a high school senior, Jia possesses a natural, intrinsic motivation to do well and an enthusiasm for academics. Since coming to West High four years ago, she has always tested at the higher end of her grade reading level. She sets a wonderful example academically for her peers, frequently reading books for entertainment during downtime, continually achieving straight A’s, and maintaining a 4.0 GPA. Jia also has excelled on standardized assessments– she took the ACT for a second time and obtained an amazing score of 34 on the reading portion. In the academic lab, she has shown a new level of confidence this year - offering explanations and support in creative and helpful ways to her deaf and hard-of-hearing peers that are struggling with math.
Though she has always been good at self-advocating in the West High School environment, last year's virtual learning was a new challenge as Jia worked with teachers who were not always familiar with the accommodation and support she needed. By the end of the year, Jia was able to independently and confidently reach out to teachers about her needs and tell them what she needed without much help.
With the support of the staff at school and developing strategies, Jia is now able to balance and navigate extracurricular activities with her academic workload! She joined West’s Girls’ Golf Team as a manager and later as a player, and currently participates in Martial Arts and regularly attends the American Sign Language club. As a senior, she serves as an excellent role model for her younger peers in how she balances both extracurriculars and academics. When she decided to run for vice president of the ASL club student board, she gave a wonderful speech, discussing how she wanted to bridge the hearing and deaf communities at school. And she won!
Jia has shown acceptance of her deafness by becoming more involved in her school community and applying to colleges with large deaf/hard of hearing programs, such as the Rochester Institute of Technology. Her growth in all aspects, academics, self-confidence, and particularly self-advocacy, makes her an inspiring young woman who has a bright future ahead.