May 29, 2014
Erick Gallegos, B.A. in English Literature and Creative Writing
Erick Gallegos’ birth was traumatic. He was stuck in the birth canal for 36 hours and as a result lost his hearing—he now has a cochlear implant—and his sight was damaged. By the age of 9, he was legally blind. He can only see objects right in front of him, within three feet and has difficulty seeing in the dark.
But that didn’t stop Gallegos, 23, of Northridge, who loved to learn. With the right technical support from CSUN and classroom assistance, he dove into his studies. When it was time to choose a college, he knew exactly where he wanted to go: California State University, Northridge.
“Several of my teachers in high school had gone to CSUN, and they told me that CSUN, with all the programs that it has, could accommodate me,” he said.
Gallegos initially enrolled at CSUN in 2008 as a business administration major. Despite the help of a transcriber who typed everything said in class—including what the professor said, what his classmates said and what was written on the board—he had a hard time keeping up.
While fulfilling one of his general education requirements, Gallegos took an English class and discovered a major where he could thrive. He loved the subject matter and the classes were structured in such a way that, with the assistance of a transcriber, assistive technology and the support of faculty members, he could actively participate in class.
“School is like going to work,” he said. “It does not matter that I am legally blind. It does not matter that I have a cochlear implant. As long as I have accommodation, I can do it. Sometimes in life we have challenges, but that doesn’t mean we give up.”
In high school, other students made fun of the way he spoke. He said he knew that once he got to CSUN, he would find a place where he could be himself and explore life to its fullest. In addition to thriving academically, he’s joined several campus groups.
Gallegos currently has an internship with a literary public relations firm. He plans to begin work on a master’s in English, with an emphasis in rhetoric and composition, at CSUN this fall.