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News 2 > Global Student Prize - Finalists > 2023 Finalists Global Student Prize > Alexandra Wong

Alexandra Wong

19 Jul 2023
United States of America
2023 Finalists Global Student Prize

Alexandra was born with severe hearing loss as the result of a problem with the bones in her left ear – a condition known as oval window atresia. This caused her real difficulties at first in school, where she could not hear the lessons properly and was often excluded from conversations because her pronunciation of words was different (due to her hearing loss). Alexandra struggled to participate and was bullied. However, after she learned how to advocate for herself and get the resources she needed, she started to flourish, and her love of learning grew. In particular, she began to ask the question: “How do we create a more inclusive world for people like me?”  

Today, Alexandra is one of the leading youth disability advocates in the United States. Not only does she advocate for equitable access to healthcare and technology, but she is also one of the scientists doing the research to prove why it is needed, working both in neuroscience and public health labs. She was named a Johns Hopkins Neuroscience Scholar and recognized as one of the top emerging deaf/hard-of-hearing undergraduate neuroscience researchers nationwide in 2020. In addition, she was awarded a $20,000 multi-year grant from the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke to fund her auditory neuroscience research and training. She has presented at four national conferences on her auditory research and has a pending first-author paper – a huge achievement and one that promises much more to come. 

Alexandra is also an internationally recognized speaker, sharing her story about growing up with hearing loss on the TEDx stage, on industry panels, and on podcasts to encourage acceptance and inclusion of people with disabilities. She has given many talks in countries such as India and the United Arab Emirates encouraging young people to pursue STEM, recognize disability, and make their digital environments more accessible. As a lead consultant for the Hopkins Career Center and Research Office, Alexandra helps ensure that the delivery of educational content is fully accessible for students with disabilities. She has also launched the NextGen Accessibility Initiative, an organization that has helped over 200,000 students across 61 countries gain access to educational content.  

Alexandra’s achievements have been widely acknowledged around the globe. She was named one of the Top 30 Generation Z leaders of 2021 by The Conversationalist, and recognized as one of the top six youth disability advocates in the US by the American Association for People with Disabilities. Her work has also been featured in the Washington Post and Teen Vogue, and Alexandra has written many op-ed articles in other publications advocating for equitable access to education. If Alexandra wins the Global Student Prize 2023, she will use half the funds to finance a graduate school degree in accessibility and digital healthcare. The rest will be used to make the NextGen Accessibility Initiative a fully-fledged nonprofit, and to help out the scholarship fund that Alexandra runs in collaboration with College Access Fairfax. 

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