Education

She’s an immigrant and was born deaf. Now she’s a Merced College Student of the Year

Merced College celebrates its graduates

More than 1,000 students celebrated the culmination of their time at Merced College during the commencement ceremony Friday in Merced. (Thaddeus Miller/tmiller@mercedsunstar.com) http://www.mercedsunstar.com
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More than 1,000 students celebrated the culmination of their time at Merced College during the commencement ceremony Friday in Merced. (Thaddeus Miller/tmiller@mercedsunstar.com) http://www.mercedsunstar.com

Blanca Ceja-Salas has overcome several obstacles on her path to her dream of being an animal photographer.

The Merced College student was born deaf in Mexico and grew up learning Spanish and American Sign Language, according to a news release.

She only started learning English, her third language, in grade school.

But now, she’s the Merced College Student of the Year.

Ceja-Salas graduates next week with a 3.7 GPA and an associate of arts degree in photography. She was given a certificate in honor of her work Tuesday at the Merced College Board of Trustees meeting.

“To have Blanca be the Student of the Year is an impressive flag for what Merced College is and how it transforms lives,” Board of Trustees President Carmen Ramirez said in the release. “Blanca hasn’t just overcome physical limitations, but language barriers and immigration issues as well.”

Ceja-Salas is a promising photographer whose work was selected by the college’s art department to hang in the college administration building.

Her dream is to one day work at the San Diego Zoo.

“Blanca was very inspiring to me, because I could relate to her journey,” board Vice President Ernie Ochoa says in the release. “She came over to this country from Mexico like I did. ... I only wish I could have done half of what she’s already done.”

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