World Deaf Leadership
Name: Jacob Ireri
Field of Study: International Development
My name is Jacob Ireri. I hail from Embu, the Republic of Kenya, Africa. I became deaf at age 3 from German Meningitis. I started my early education at a mainstreamed program in the 1990s. After that, I enrolled at a deaf school in Kenya for my elementary education. Upon successful completion of my elementary education in 2001, I enrolled at a mixed high school.
Due to my inability to hear, I experienced discrimination in Kenyan society. When I finished high school, I realized that it was time to begin my dream of becoming a leader. Luckily, my parents encouraged this interest. I successfully founded a deaf-centered local organization whose main purpose is to promote equal human rights and to eliminate all forms of obstacles against deaf people in Kenya. My desire to discover and explore the world drove me to apply for and get accepted into Gallaudet University in 2007 to pursue a degree. Fortunately, I was awarded the prestigious World Deaf Leadership (WDL) scholarship by the Nippon Foundation.
My major goals are to pursue and successfully complete both B.A. and M.A. degrees with honors in International Development at Gallaudet.
My WDL project is to return to Kenya and invest all my skills I have gained and all that I have learned to help deaf-centered organizations lift the living standards of deaf and hard of hearing people socially, economically, linguistically, culturally, and politically. I also hope to work closely with other leaders in developing countries to build the capacity of institutions to incorporate the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities into their legislation in the education, health, and employment sectors so that deaf people can equally lead a more rewarding, inspiring, comfortable, and sustainable lifestyle.