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Fall 2005 Table of Contents
Versión español de este artículo (Spanish Version)

Choice to Send Twins to U.S. Affirmed

By Aman Batheja, Star-Telegram Staff Writer

Reprinted with permission from Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Abstract: Twins from Taiwan graduate from high school with top honors. One of these students is blind will go on to the University of Texas to study violin with plans to become professional musician.

Key Words:Family, blind, visually impaired, deafblind, valedictorian, student, college

When Helen and Judy Chang were toddlers in Taiwan, their parents had a fateful choice to make: watch their twin daughters grow up or provide them an education that would properly address the special needs of Helen, who was born blind. After exploring the limited educational opportunities available for the disabled in Taiwan, the new parents chose to send their twin daughters to live with their aunt in Texas.

Traveling from Taiwan for her daughters' graduation, Saritai Wu sat on the floor of Daniel-Meyer Coliseum. It gave her the perfect view to confirm that she made the right choice. On her right, among the sea of blue gowns, was Judy Chang, graduating fifth in the Class of 2005 at Arlington Heights High School. To her left, seated on stage, was Helen Chang, the valedictorian. It capped 13 years in Fort Worth public schools in which Helen Chang has frequently inspired those around her. She refused to be anything but an extraordinary, well-rounded student, according to teachers and school officials.

"I just admire her tremendously," said Judy Hill, Arlington Heights' academic coordinator. "When I get down, I think of Helen."

She's motivated her classmates as well. "One person said in his [college application] essay that the most inspirational person he's met in his life is Helen Chang," Hill said.

Helen's intelligence and independent spirit showed her teachers and classmates she never had to be treated like less than an average student, her uncle Joe Kemp said. In her senior year alone, she took five Advanced Placement classes.

Helen and Judy Chang will attend the University of Texas at Austin this fall. Judy plans to major in engineering, and Helen will study the violin, they said. Helen Chang said studying to be a professional musician will be more challenging than anything she attempted in high school. Because of her disability, she'll have to memorize all her pieces, she said. But she refuses to be intimidated. During her valedictorian speech, she told the crowd she was both sad and excited about ending this chapter in her life.

"This is a new beginning," she said. "We can make our futures what we want them to be."

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