Meet Joel Orozco, a freshman attending California State University, Fullerton. Joel was born with Microtia and Atresia of his left ear. Joel always had a positive outlook on life and always fit in with his classmates when he was younger and enjoyed playing on the playground with his peers. However, during middle school he struggled with his confidence as he began noticing people staring at his left ear and he believed people would treat him differently. Joel became shy and felt insecure around girls his age and people in general. Joel felt a little lost. Joel says “I would try and sit on the left side of the classroom so my Microtia ear faced the wall, and when I had to talk to people I would have my head tilted.” “It was not until my junior year of high school where I was surrounded by friends who genuinely accepted me, cared, and loved me did I fit in,” Joel says. It was during Joel’s junior year of high school that he became social and more confident again.
One of Joel’s personal achievements was being on a show called Mr. Wilson where there was a fashion show and Joel was a part of the group selected for the runway. Joel says, “To be in front of such a big crowd with glaring lights beaming down on you and not caring whether or not people saw my ear was a huge achievement for me.” After participating in three rounds of fashion, talent/dance, and question, I felt proud and had rediscovered himself again. While Joel did not win, he says that “it was the largest milestone in confidence, charisma, happiness, and acceptance he had ever reached.” Joel went from being that scared lost kid who was afraid to order his own food at restaurants to realizing that he just did something in front of a thousand people, knowing that the majority of people would not do what he just did on their own due to confidence issues. He said “I finally felt like myself again, my distant feelings I had as an elementary student on the playground rushed back to me where I felt the same as everyone else.”
In addition to Joel excelling at academics during his later years high school earning a 3.6 grade point average, he also joined soccer where he played the starter position, …his new found confidence did not stop there. Now that Joel is a student at Cal State, he is excited about majoring in kinesiology, eventually planning to earn his masters degree in physical therapy. Joel intends to work with individuals who have disabilities. Joel says “not only would I plan to improve their conditions physically, but I would like to talk to them and treat them the way I would like to be treated in order to feel normal.” Joel says “I was first inspired by being a physical therapist when I saw a kid who needed a cane to walk because he limped. There was a person next to me who stared at him and wasn’t very nice…and I felt this kid’s pain.” Ever since Joel witnessed this, he decided that he would like to work with children and adults with disabilities because everyone should always be treated the same and never differently just because of the way they look or walk.
Ear Community is proud to award Joel with a college scholarship for $750.00 to help him pursue his achievements toward becoming a physical therapist at Cal State. “It sounds like Joel has a good head on his shoulders and is sensitive to others feelings and believes in being respectful to others and because of this, all of us here at Ear Community believe you will go very far in life Joel,” says Melissa Tumblin, Founder of Ear Community. Life isn’t always easy and people are not always nice, but seeing that Joel has gotten his confidence back, it looks like there is nothing that can bring him down now. Congratulations on also accepting yourself for who you are Joel! A special thank you to the Resort2Kindness Organization in Colorado for helping make this opportunity possible for Joel! We hope you do great things in life with your positive attitude! Good luck to you in school Joel and we wish you the best success in getting your degrees and for your future. Congratulations on being a recipient of our college scholarship through Ear Community!
Founder and Executive Director