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America’s Got Talent finalist Mandy Harvey shares her story on overcoming disabilities with high school students across Richardson ISD
 
Almost 5,000 Richardson ISD students were able to step inside the world of a modern-day Beethoven as Mandy Harvey—finalist on the America’s Got Talent television show—shared her story at all four RISD high schools this week.

Harvey, who was in Richardson for a Saturday performance at the Eisemann Center, performed and shared her unique story of overcoming an invisible disability—hearing loss.

At the age of 18, the lifelong musician faced a life-changing event of when she lost her hearing. Harvey was born with near-perfect pitch, but also with a deformity in her ears that made it difficult to hear. The condition worsened but through lip reading and hearing aids, it was not yet impossible to hear.

Over time, her hearing aids could not provide enough support and all residual hearing had disappeared during her freshman year of college. With her hearing was gone, Harvey was removed from the school’s music program.

With her passion on the brink of disappearing, Harvey became determined to maintain her passion for music sharing joy through her voice and instruments. Harvey’s sense of touch and feel became primary and she learned with her dad to play songs on a guitar. This triumph led to her becoming a finalist on Season 12 of America’s Got Talent, releasing multiple CDs, touring the country, and becoming a motivational speaker.

The fine arts and special education student who heard Harvey’s message embraced her message.

“This young lady has an amazing story and did an outstanding job interacting with our students,” said Jeff Bradford, executive director of RISD’s Fine Arts program. “All of the campuses welcomed Mandy with open arms. Our kids and staff learned a bit of American Sign Language to help Mandy feel right at home.”

Inclusiveness and perseverance were key in Harvey’s message.

“A lot of time, our kids are told what they cannot do, so it was inspiring for them to hear someone tell them they are capable of doing great things,” said Carissa Schwarzlose, department chair for the special education program at Pearce High School.
     
 
 
 
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