Making an Impact
In the world we live in today, people tend to take the simple things in life, such as sight and sound, for granted. Helen Keller (1880-1968) was born physically normal in Tuscumbia, Alabama, but lost her sight and hearing at the age of nineteen months to an illness now believed to have been scarlet fever (History.com). Five years later, Keller’s parents applied for her to attend the Perkins Institute for the Blind in Boston, where Anne Mansfield Sullivan was later hired to be her teacher. When asked about Sullivan, Keller added "The most important day I remember in all my life is the one on which my teacher, Anne Mansfield Sullivan, came to me." Keller learned from Sullivan to read and write in braille and to use the hand signals of the deaf-mute, which she could understand only by touch (History.com). Helen Keller utilizes her disabilities and ambition to prove that an impact can be made on the world, even if there are setbacks to struggle through.
After graduating from Perkins Institute for the Blind, Keller hoped to go to college. After being told multiple times that it would be impossible for her to go to college considering her disabilities, Keller was determined to be the first deaf-blind person to graduate from with a college degree. Keller dreamed of going to Harvard, but it was the 1890s, and Harvard did not accept women. She then focused on her second choice, Radcliffe College (America’s Library). In the fall of 1900, Keller entered Radcliffe. She lived in one of the dormitories, along with Sullivan and many other girls. The idea of being “just like the other girls” was one thing that pleased Keller most. She would later find out that she would in fact be different and would have to work harder than anyone else. Friends and professors tried to persuade her to take easier courses than what the other girls took. They also encouraged her to take longer than four years to finish college, but Keller replied, "I don't want to spend the rest of my life in college." During her years at Radcliffe, Keller wrote an autobiography, The Story of my Life, which was published in 1903. The autobiography, being the first of her twelve published books, recounts the story of her life up to age twenty-one. Keller made history in 1904, when she fought against the odds and was the first deaf-blind person to graduate from college, even doing so with honors. She had fulfilled her dream and showed the world what a determined deaf and blind woman could do.
With her appearance at the 1915 San Francisco Exposition, Keller added to her credentials as a national figure and continued to use that platform for liberal political causes, especially during World War I. The postwar years slowly brought a moderation of her political views, especially after she became affiliated with the new American Foundation for the Blind (AFD) in 1924. Her international reputation and warm personality enabled her to enlist the support of many wealthy people, and...