Krystal's ready for brand new day
LIKE many students graduating from high school yesterday, Krystal Burgess is ready to embrace the future and make a difference in the world.
But Krystal's journey to this point has been harder than most of her fellow students at Trinity Bay State High School.
Seventeen years ago, Krystal was born deaf, something her mother Suzanne feared would limit her future.
Instead, at the age of 22 months, Krystal was the first person in the Far North to receive a "bionic ear" and she's grown up with a passionate determination to live life to the full -- evidenced by her ability to play the piano.
The confident teen teared up as she spoke about her efforts to overcome some of the setbacks life had thrown at her, saying the community's support over the years gave her the strength to work hard to achieve her goals.
"They've given me courage to keep going," Krystal said.
The cochlear implant enables Krystal to hear, but group conversations and noisy environments are challenging, which often made forming friendships difficult because she was perceived as introverted.
Most deaf people are unable to hear musical tones and beats, however Krystal has even managed to learn to play the piano. She now aspires to become a documentary filmmaker to share other people's stories.
"I feel that I can make a difference in other people's lives."
Mrs Burgess watched with great pride as her daughter graduated alongside her classmates yesterday.
"It was a very surreal moment for me knowing that we actually came to this point with Krystal," Mrs Burgess said.
"It has been a very emotional journey for us the last 17 years. For both Krystal and I, it has been a journey of growth."
When Krystal was born, Mrs Burgess was a 23-year-old first-time mother struck by fear that she may not be able to rise to the challenge of a newborn with a disability.
But she did what any mother would do with a child in need -- she rallied her strength and dug deep to provide, paying $30,000 out of pocket for Krystal to be fitted with a cochlear implant in 1997.
"It was worth every dime," she said.
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Long journey: Krystal Burgess was the first in the Far North to receive a cochlear implant.