Christen Coyle

DYW is all about overcoming the odds

By SARALYN NORKUS Staff Writer
Posted 7/21/17

All of the Tennessee Distinguished Young Women participants are inspiring in their own rights, but one in particular is making program history this year.

You wouldn’t know it watching her …

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Christen Coyle

DYW is all about overcoming the odds

Posted

All of the Tennessee Distinguished Young Women participants are inspiring in their own rights, but one in particular is making program history this year.

You wouldn’t know it watching her among the other DYW competitors, but Christen Coyle, an at-large participant from Shelby County, is hearing impaired and according to DYW Co-Chair Traci Fant, the first girl with a disability to reach the state level competition.

“Everything she does is at 110 percent — it’s amazing,” Fant declared.

Coyle, a Germantown native, was born 60 percent deaf and had completely lost her hearing by 18 months of age. A cochlear implant has since helped restore some of her hearing.

“I can read lips, but sometimes if people are saying super-complicated stuff, I’m like, ‘Wait a minute, what did you say?’ I do a little bit of sign language — but not too complicated — as well,” Coyle explained.

Her interest in DYW stemmed from her sister’s participation with the organization.

“My sister has been part of DYW for several years now and I wanted to be a part of something that made her so happy and a different person when she came home,” Coyle detailed.

“At the time I was like ‘Hey, I could use some of that.’ I would love to make some friends, hang out and have fun, no matter how exhausting the program is.”

This year’s theme, “Be Uniquely You,” is one that is especially meaningful for Coyle, who realizes that by being herself, she is serving as inspiration and a role model for others who may be “different.”

“It feels great to be honest, because everyone is unique in their own ways. I guess it inspires others, because I’ve grown up my whole life doing special stuff to make myself just like everyone else. You know, I also realize just being special, or deaf, makes me who I am, and separates me from the norm,” Coyle stated.

Coyle is most looking forward to the talent portion of DYW, because not only will she be sharing her poetry, she will also be able to break out her “jeans with holes in them” and her “combat boots.”

Growing up hearing impaired, Coyle has faced her fair share of challenges, but one in particular stands out the most — bullying.

“My whole life I’ve been bullied about my hearing, and how I couldn’t hear things right the first time,” she explained.

“People would get frustrated and say ‘Never mind, I’ll go ask somebody else.’ I’ve always had to deal with that, especially in middle school when everyone cliqued together. School is very rough, but high school has taught me that people can be nicer to me.”

Based on her experiences with being bullied, Coyle has some valuable advice to share with others who might be going through the same thing.

“Please, please, please don’t listen to bullies,” she proclaimed.

“I know that people try to say go to the authorities when a person bullies you, but to be honest, the only way is to stand up and be your true self to the bully, no matter if they’re going to keep on pressuring you to it, because they know nothing.”

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saralyn.norkus@clevelandbanner.com

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