The moment that Jiang Mengnan received the award of Person Touching China for 2021, she said she most wanted to express her gratitude to her parents.
She was chosen along with nine other honorees on March 3 to receive the award given annually on China Central Television, which selects 10 models nationwide every year who spread positive energy and promote social integrity.
Deaf almost since birth, Jiang has overcome myriad obstacles to achieve her dream of studying for a PhD at Tsinghua University, one of China's most prestigious schools.
Born in 1992 into an ethnic Yao family in Yizhang County, Hunan Province, Jiang's world has been silent since she was 6 months old, when medicine she was given that irreparably damaged her hearing.
When she was a toddler, her parents began teaching her to read lips. They also taught her vocalization by putting her hands on their throats, so she could feel the vibration of their vocal cords.
It was a slow, laborious process, but her parents never gave up and Jiang learned to speak.
When she was old enough, Jiang was enrolled in a standard primary school, not a special school, as was common for most children with disabilities.
She said it was difficult at first. During lessons, teachers would often write on the blackboard with their back to the students, so Jiang missed much of the content. She had to copy down everything on the blackboard and study alone after class to keep up with her classmates.
Her perseverance made her a top student. In 2011, she achieved an impressive score on the national college entrance exam and was admitted to Jilin University in Changchun, Jilin Province.
After graduating in 2015, she began pursuing an advanced degree at the university, studying computer-aided drug design. In 2018, she was accepted as a PhD candidate at Tsinghua University's School of Life Sciences.
Jiang is expected to receive her doctorate at the end of this year.
"I'm always grateful for the respect I received from my parents, teachers and friends," she said. "They never give me special attention for my imperfection, which means I've never seen myself as different from anyone else."
In the future, she wants to continue scientific research in pharmacology and contribute her values to solving problems of life and health, she said.
Please understand that womenofchina.cn,a non-profit, information-communication website, cannot reach every writer before using articles and images. For copyright issues, please contact us by emailing: email@example.com. The articles published and opinions expressed on this website represent the opinions of writers and are not necessarily shared by womenofchina.cn.