Alumni News: A Graduate’s Story of Leadership

by Tony Asghari, father of Mia (Class of 2015):

When Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayer was a child, she was told that she could never become a judge because of her Type 1 diabetes. Likewise, parents of children with hearing loss might hear that positions involving great leadership skills are off limits because of their disability. But Mia Asghari’s story proves that anyone can do it, with hard work and persistence.

Fifteen-year-old Mia, who was born with a hearing loss and wears hearing aids in both ears, is a champion coxswain on a high-school rowing team. This means she is both the captain and quarterback for a crew full of superior athletes. Every time she steps into the boat, she must communicate clearly with purpose and authority to the rest of her crew members. It’s her responsibility to coach the team, using a cox box. The cox box amplifies her voice using speakers placed throughout the boat, so that all of her rowers can hear her directions.

Mia had no knowledge of crew when she started rowing just two years ago. Rowing, one of the toughest sports physically, also requires a keen awareness and superior technical skills, similar to competitive gymnastics. As Mia became proficient in rowing, she was thrust into a leadership role.

This challenge, given her soft-spoken, shy demeanor, was a potential roadblock. But she did not let her personality dissuade her. This spring Mia joined the vaunted New Trier High School rowing program, where her team, led by coxswain Mia, earned the gold medal for the Women’s Novice 4+ at The Midwest Scholastic Rowing Championship at Kensington Park, Michigan. 

We hope that every child who learns Mia’s story is encouraged to follow their dream!