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Breaking Down Barriers for Others Who are Deaf

Amanda Zubricki

Meet Amanda Zubricki, a powerful and persistent advocate for the deaf and hard of hearing. A registered dental hygienist, speaker and influencer, Amanda was born profoundly deaf and wears hearing aids. According to the CDC, a person with profound hearing loss like Amanda will not hear any speech and at most only very loud sounds. But she refuses to allow that to deter her. 

Amanda is a warrior for a good cause! She uses the power of social media to ensure people HEAR her messages, and that those messages can reach larger and larger audiences. Also, she uses her wit, case in point: her Instagram channel (@that.deaf.girl), to highlight daily ableism battles. The issues are serious business, but she delivers her message in a way that informs and educates. 

When asked how she describes herself and her advocacy work, she uses the word “brave,” and you can get a sense of why. In her life, she has braved her way through discrimination and bullying. But she pushes forward, fighting for inclusion for others like herself and empowering the public through awareness.

Besides being a dental hygienist, she's a mom of three little girls, including twins. When she's not at work or taking care of her girls, she's driven to create compelling content for her advocacy work on social media.

Tell us a little about yourself: My passion is speaking and advocating for inclusion, and I love inspiring people.

I graduated from Towson University with a bachelor of science in psychology. After graduating, I spent several years working with children who have disabilities. I wanted to become a pediatric occupational therapist, but getting my master’s didn't work out at the time.

Later, I returned to school to pursue a degree in dental hygiene at NOVA. I wanted a stable career with a one-on-one emphasis in a small environment and thought this was the best choice for me in healthcare. In 2017, I became a licensed dental hygienist and have been practicing as a clinical dental hygienist ever since. 

Honestly, it was a career choice that was never on my radar. I initially thought it was a mistake because many doubted my ability to become a dental hygienist. Many others would put me down, including a board examiner. Others would roll their eyes. I was being talked at obnoxiously and I was not being heard when I complained. A dentist even made me cry. There was a lot of discouragement, but looking back, I see it as a beautiful mistake because of the impact I've made and continue to make in this industry, such as speaking and advocating for inclusion in the dentistry world.

I am passionate about advocating for those who are deaf or hard of hearing. I started a nonprofit called That Deaf RDH (Registered Dental Hygienist). The vision is to ensure every deaf or hard-of-hearing person has the financial and community support needed to achieve their goal of becoming a dental hygienist who might otherwise be deprived of this opportunity.

Also, I started a Facebook group called That Deaf RDH Careers and Events, where others can find deaf-friendly offices, learn ways to provide inclusion in the office and learn ways to work with patients who have hearing loss. Also, students who are deaf or hard of hearing can join the group and learn about self-advocacy in school and scholarship information.

What brought you to NOVA? They have a good dental hygiene program and are local! 

Can you share a fun memory or anecdote about your time at NOVA? I met this amazing patient with TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury). She told me her story of surviving a crash off a cliff in California. She went on to work for a TBI organization in DC. I enjoyed having her and listening to her story each time. We shared a lot about our disabilities and could relate in many ways.

What professors and classmates from NOVA do you still stay in touch with? I keep in touch with Betsy DiSilvio and several classmates, including one of my best friends, who I met at orientation!

Somewhere in the middle of orientation, they asked us to say hi to the person next to us. I introduced myself to the person sitting next to me, "Hi, my name is Amanda," and she said, "Hi, I'm Cali. Like California Cali." We realized we were in the same dental hygiene program. In every class, she sat behind me, and we supported each other throughout the program along with our friend Emily. Puppies, marriages, out-of-state moves and babies later, the three of us still talk daily! I would not have survived hygiene school without Cali and Emily.

What are your educational goals? As technology and research improve, I continue to educate myself on the ever-growing dental industry. I aspire to become a myofunctional therapist. It would be great to have that knowledge since many of my patients have sleep and airway disorders. 

What are your career goals? I'm focusing on growing my speaking platform and branching out nationwide as more and more deaf or hard-of-hearing students work to become dental hygienists. I'd love to see my nonprofit continue to grow as well! 

What would you tell a student coming to NOVA? No matter your career goals, start smart and small and see where it takes you! 

For more information on Amanda Zubricki visit her at:

Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) is the largest public institution of higher learning in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America's largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls nearly 80,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield (Medical Education Campus) and Woodbridge, through NOVA Online and high school dual enrollment. We offer more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs to help our students reach their academic and professional goals through university transfers and access to the most in-demand careers. At NOVA, we strive to ensure that every student succeeds, every program achieves and every community prospers. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, visit our website, www.nvcc.eduor call 703.323.3000.

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