Makayla Daka

Trident Technical College

"Don't be afraid of failing and never give up on your dreams and goals. Even when you feel like you can't do it, don't give up."

My name is Makayla Daka. Growing up, I knew I was different. I faced a lot of challenges and obstacles in my life, but that didn’t stop me from doing what I wanted to do.  I am deaf in both ears. I wear bilateral cochlear implants to help me to hear.  I’m thankful for the resources that were available to me, and I’m very thankful for my parents for being there for me along the way. I don’t know what I would do without them. 

I graduated from Cranberry High School. During my senior year, I took dual credit classes and noticed that the classes weren’t too bad. It made me think, “Why not just guide myself through Trident after taking their dual credit classes?”

I started college at Trident last year and I had a great experience. At first, it was a little bit difficult because I was transitioning from high school to college. I didn’t have the proper resources I needed, and I had to find a way to get those.

I’m thankful that I was offered a scholarship that helped me get the proper materials, which really helped me during my freshman year. Now I’m in my second year of college and I’m studying to be a dental hygienist. 

 

What barriers have you overcome along the way? 

Ever since I was little, I have struggled with English. It is not my first language, sign language is! When writing, I make a lot of grammar errors. It doesn’t always connect with sign language. Over time, I’ve been getting better at it with the help of my parents and the resources I had in high school to practice my English. Since I got into college, I noticed I’m getting a little bit better and branching out my vocabulary as well. When I got into college, there was a writing center available. I use that, not just for writing, but also for speech. 

 

How did your scholarship help? 

I didn’t know about this particular scholarship until my disability counselor told me about it. Last year, it helped me pay for my FM system, the microphone piece I need my professors to wear around their necks so I can hear them as it transmits to my cochlear.

That cost, I think it was around roughly $1,000 or $2,000. The scholarship helped me put money towards it because I know at the time I could not afford it even though I was working hard to save up money. My parents and family were contributing, as well. That helped me get what I needed in order to be successful in my other classes. 

 

How was the transition from high school to Trident?

That was really difficult. I was suddenly on my own. I had to figure out how to get the resources I needed, which meant finding the proper people to speak with. My interpreters helped me as well, and I am so thankful for them. Whenever I needed something, they were there for me. I’m also thankful for the vocational rehab service in South Carolina for people with disabilities. 

 

What have you learned about yourself on the journey? 

I didn’t give up on the journey, even when it was really difficult and I wanted to give up. I learned that I’m not a quitter. Knowing that I can accomplish things just makes me want to do more and push myself further to see what else I can achieve in life.

 

How has the sense of community impacted your journey? 

I’m part of the scholar network at Trident. When I first started, they introduced me to this program and I got to meet other students — some with disabilities, some without. Once I became part of that group, I felt like, “This is my home.” 

 

What does “I Defy” mean to you? 

It means I can conquer anything. I can become a leader and inspire other people to do the same. Hopefully, they will see my story and think, “Oh, if she has gone through so many obstacles in her life, maybe I can do it, too.” I know life can be hard sometimes, but you just have to keep a positive mindset.

 

What advice do you have for students just coming out of high school? 

I would definitely say explore your options. Don’t be afraid of failing and never give up on your dreams and goals. Even when you feel like you can’t do it, don’t give up. There’s always something else there for you. Reach out to the people who can help you reach your goals.