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Not to be silenced

Burbank High's Sarah Tubert has battled to overcome the stigma of being deaf to become a successful athlete and role model

April 15, 2011|By Jeff Tully,
(Cheryl A. Guerrero…)

There is a philosophy in the Tubert family that all of its members live by: "This is your journey, and what do you want to do with it?"

Following that credo, father Marcelo has become a successful actor and voice-over artist and mother Lori is a successful writer, videographer and singer. Even eldest daughter, Emily, has embraced the philosophy, as the Burroughs High graduate is a championship golfer, winning league and CIF Southern Section titles, a national amateur title and is now parlaying her skills into a fine freshman season playing for the University of Arkansas women's team.

"As parents, we wanted to help launch our children out into whereever they wanted to go in life," Lori said. "We wanted to let them accomplish the things they wanted to do."

None of the Tuberts has embodied the philosophy more than youngest daughter, Sarah, a senior at Burbank High.

The journey hasn't been an easy one for Sarah, however. When she was just 3, she endured what Lori called a botched surgery, which took most of her hearing and left the toddler with a severed facial muscle and permanent paralysis.


Sarah said it was often difficult for her growing up, as she struggled to come to terms with her disability. As a young girl, she just wanted to fit in.

"Growing up, it was a little hard for me because I was very self-conscious and I was very closed-minded," she said. "I felt like I couldn't do a lot of things. I remember going up to my parents and telling them I was the dumbest one in class. I really didn't realize what I could accomplish."

Her parents made a concerted effort to ensure that their daughter received everything she needed to live a quality life. Marcelo and Lori made it a point to not only have Sarah learn sign language, but they realized the importance of having her be able to communicate in the auditory world as well.

"When she was little, we immediately got her a hearing aid and the things that she needed, and we gave her all the sound we could," Lori said. "We just wanted to give her as much sound as possible. But with that, we also wanted her to learn sign language and be able to use that. We didn't want to make the decision of one thing or the other; we wanted her to learn both."

Because of that exposure, Sarah is rare in the fact she is a deaf person who is fluent in speech as well as sign language.

Instead of surrendering to the limitations that hinder many deaf individuals, Sarah has made sure to live her life without boundaries.

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