Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Mariella Paulino (CAS ‘12), Founder of Project Hearing

Mariella Paulino
What is your favorite memory of your time at NYU? 

One of my favorite memories was during my very first week at NYU. My family lives in the Bronx, and my mother came with me for orientation week. Since I was a student with a disability, we were informed about the disability office - now called the Moses Center for Student Accessibility - via Ms. Valerie Cabral, the Assistant Director for the NYU Opportunity Programs at the time (now the Director of Alumni Relations at New York University Tandon School of Engineering). 

At the Moses Center, Ms. Cabral introduced me to Maria Schiano, the Coordinator for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services. Following our first meeting, Maria set up services I had never received before and didn't know existed! These services included real-time captioning from people like Lauren Schechter and Wendy Ruiz, two of the best stenographers in the industry. There were other services like notetakers, preferential seating, and hearing equipment upgrades like the newest state-of-the-art personal microphones —which came in handy during the freshman year lecture halls which had over 150+ students! These services were set up almost immediately for all my orientation week activities and summer and fall classes. I started having access to classroom conversations that allowed me to engage with my peers and professors with a new sense of independence and access I never had before. 

I remember looking at my mom during that meeting and knowing that we had made the right decision in choosing NYU. After our first meeting, Maria made a comment along the lines of, "She is going to get everything she needs to be successful here." I finally felt a sense of being seen as a person with a disability who needed accommodations to facilitate equal access and being in a space where I knew I would be supported with tools that met only the highest standards. 

Mariella Paulino: her story continues