The Story Behind the Smile

IMG_2060Vyoma Raman strives to be living proof that having a disability does not limit her in any way

Aleesha Kashif

Staff Writer

    Whether it’s an iPhone, laptop, or a tablet, every teenager has some sort of device plugged into the outlet next to their bed. In Vyoma Raman’s (10) case, it’s a wheelchair.

    Despite her disability, she lives her life just like every AHS student. The same struggles, the same expectations, and the same dreams. The only thing that seems to set her apart from other is her disability –  Spinal Muscular Atrophy. This condition disables Raman’s ability to walk and weakens her muscles, which barricades any type of physical activity.

    Her mornings are nothing out of the ordinary. “I brush my teeth, put on clothes, eat breakfast—the usual,” Raman states. Her school days, however, are rather unusual.

   Once she reaches school, she visits various teachers to collect her daily essentials: a chromebook and a tray.

    “Every day, I go get my tray that I use to work in class because it’s a hassle to take on the bus,” Raman said. “Then I get my chromebook that I use to take all my notes. It’s really helpful because I get really tired writing [manually].”

    The first period bell cues her into a tough school day and she makes her way through flooded hallways and small doorways. She sits through Chemistry Honors before she excitedly makes her way to her favorite class of the day—English Honors.

    “I love to construct ‘palaces out of paragraphs’ to quote Hamilton,” Raman exclaims. “Sometimes it’s hard to type as fast as my thoughts are going. I always rewrite everything a hundred times to get the flow right.”

    After plenty of notetaking, Vyoma lifts the tension off her hands and onto her diaphragm. Under Mr. Wong’s guidance, Raman practices singing—the most physical part of her day.

    “My lung capacity is low so I can’t crescendo as well as others,” Raman states. “I enjoy singing but when I get respiratory infections, I don’t recover as well. Even after a month, I’m still coughing and my lungs are not at their best, so it can be really hard to sing.”

    Perhaps the most difficult part of her day comes next: AP Euro, Spanish 3, and Pre-calculus Honors. Raman takes notes, some more notes, and—to top it all off—notes with numbers.

    “I’m slow and can’t keep up with Mr. Iglesias sometimes,” Raman says. “It’s really hard to use the chromebook in precalc because they don’t have good math software to type formulas. I try to keep up, but sometimes it’s hard and my classmates are good about sending pictures of their notes to me.”

    When Raman isn’t doing homework, she enjoys her friends’ company: her best friend Divya and her second best friend—books.

     “Since I was little I could never go out and run around on the playground like everybody else,” Raman said. “So I began to reada lot.”

    Reading so much opened up new interests that were unique in comparison to her peers, such as history and social science.

    “I love to write. I love politics,” Raman said. “I’m generally more humanities-geared, although I am [also] interested in both math and quantitative things.”

    Vyoma developed a deep love for history as a child. She took part in the National History Day Competition last year and successfully reached nationals.

    “At this point now, I feel like she is beyond trying to prove anything and she is just totally focused all the time,” Raman’s AP Euro history teacher Mr. Iglesias said. “She is fascinated with why things have happened and she’s just really interested in social history.”

     All of Raman’s goals, interests, and desires come from one thing: to disprove society’s constant double standard about students with disabilities. Vyoma strives to be living proof that having a disability does not limit her potential or intelligence in anyway.  

    “Her disability does not affect her brain at all, it’s just a physical condition,” Raman’s best friend Divya Prakash (10) said. “It’s more like an ‘and’. She has a disability, and she’s brilliant.”

    Even though Vyoma has faced slightly different challenges in her life, Vyoma is no different than any other brilliant individual chasing their dream.

    “I have the same dreams as anybody else,” Raman said. “And to achieve those dreams, I have to do what everybody else does.”

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