Student Speaker Shares Her Personal Journey with Fellow Graduates

Isabel Fernandes '21, M'22, was selected to address the Class of 2022 at the Graduate Commencement ceremony on May 20.

After being diagnosed at 5 years old with deafness, Isabel Fernandes ’21, M’22 faced a continuous stream of stigmas and challenges, especially at school.

But as she grew older, learned how to advocate for herself and destigmatize any preconceived notions about deafness, Fernandes saw the power education can have to better one’s life and the lives of others. So it should come as no surprise that following her time at Merrimack, Fernandes will become a teacher.

“I want to take the knowledge I gained at Merrimack and bring it to the classroom,” said Fernandes, a Double Warrior.

She will share her life story with her fellow 405 graduates at the 2022 as the Graduate Commencement ceremony student speaker on Friday, May 20, at Duane Stadium.

The student speakers for both the undergraduate and graduate ceremonies are selected by committees comprised of faculty and staff, following a nomination process and candidates submitting a video of themselves reading their speech.

“Isabel submitted a stirring speech, detailing both her personal experiences with navigating the world with a disability, and the many ways she thrived and bloomed while at Merrimack,” said Susan Marine, vice provost for graduate education. “She is committed to using education as a tool for empowerment and will use her training and network to further the cause of making schools better places for everyone. We found her to be an exceptional representative of the Class of 2022.”

Fernandes credits Merrimack, and specifically the Double Warrior program, with helping her become the person she is today.

“My favorite thing about doing the Double Warrior was having the space to grow in the field I am entering,” Fernandes explained. “If I graduated from undergrad and went right into the workforce, I wouldn’t be where I am now.”

When she wrote her speech, Fernandes said the hardest part was trying to figure out how to include all of her Merrimack experiences, from playing in the band to serving as an admissions ambassador to working in Accessibility Services.

“I’ve learned a lot and made so many connections,” said Fernandes, who will teach fifth and sixth graders in Billerica, MA.