Speaker offers encouragement to Oklahoma middle school students

Cassandra Oakes, who is blind and deaf, spoke to students at Putnam City's Western Oaks Middle School in Bethany on Monday.
by Matt Patterson Modified: April 8, 2013 at 5:27 pm •  Published: April 9, 2013
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— Cassandra Oakes often spends her time motivating deaf and blind people in their daily lives, but on Monday her message was aimed at middle school students gearing up for another round of standardized tests.

Oakes spoke to a packed auditorium at Putnam City's Western Oaks Middle School. She spoke of the need to try, even if you fail, and cited her own experiences growing up deaf as an example.

“You have to believe in yourself,” Oakes told the students. “No matter who you are or where you are from, you are unique and special.”

Oakes has Usher syndrome, a condition that affects hearing and vision. She was born deaf and began losing her vision in her late 30s. She spoke for about 25 minutes and then took questions from the audience. Students were impressed with her message.

“She's very inspirational,” eighth-grade student Santana Spangler-Day said. “She's had a rough life, but she still managed to get through it. It just shows you what you can do.”

Eighth-grader Kailee Lovelady said Oakes shows how important a good attitude is.

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by Matt Patterson
Reporter
Matt Patterson has been with The Oklahoman since 2006. Prior to joining the news staff in 2010, Patterson worked in The Oklahoman's sports department for five years. He previously worked at The Lawton Constitution and The Edmond Sun....
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