Diamond Bar High School

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Blind Diamond Bar Graduate Pursues Double Major At UCLA

By Christina Ruiz, San Gabriel Valley Tribune Correspondent

Despite being visually impaired, Andrew Luk has never had a problem seeing the glass half full.


He is a skilled piano player. He swims and loves to debate (he was a member of Diamond Bar High School's swim and debate teams). And he is an excellent student, who finished high school this month with a 3.7 GPA.


Thanks to his hard work in the classroom, Luk has been accepted to UCLA, where he plans to pursue a double major in psychology and history.


The new graduate of Diamond Bar High's Class of 2010 has never let his blindness defeat him in any way.


"I know that everyone has their share of bad things they must deal with because that is how life is," Luk said. "I'm just fortunate to have a great family behind me for support."


At age 5, Luk complained of headaches to his mother Royani, who didn't think much of them at first. But the headaches persisted, increasing in severity. She decided to get a professional opinion.


Doctors found a 1.1-centimeter tumor on his optic nerve and immediately began radiation treatment to shrink the tumor.


Luk's vision began to deteriorate. Soon he could only see shadows and some light in his left eye, nothing from his right. Luk also became partially deaf in his right ear as a result of the tumor.


After it was all over, the Luks were left with a Catch-22. The tumor was gone, but Andrew's vision and hearing would never return. The family remained positive and confident that Andrew would prevail despite the circumstance.


Determined that Andrew would grow up and be capable of taking care of himself, the Luks decided to move the family from the Azusa Unified School District to Diamond Bar's school district. The change of scenery would ensure that their son would be forced to do more things for himself, ultimately making him more independent.


With the help of a cane and sometimes an aide, Luk braved the large, two-story, 3,000-student campus.


He joined the swim team because he wanted to get involved in sports but knew he couldn't play football or basketball. An exceptional swimmer, Luk was always breaking his own record for the 500 freestyle. At one point, he had gotten his time down to under nine minutes.


His story is a perfect example of perseverance, of making the absolute best out of a not-so-ideal situation.


Luk has attracted much media attention in the past few years. "The Los Angeles Times" interviewed him in 2008, calling his story a "triumph of the human spirit." He was also interviewed by CBS for a television special.


"It's not about disability or what you can't do," he said. "It's about your ability and that's what you have to focus and work on."


He uses a laptop that translates letters into Braille and texts on his cellphone like any other teenager.


What does the future hold for Luk? He has his sights set on becoming a family or relationship therapist. Luk wants to work in a clinic and teach.


An articulate communicator, Luk says he has even thrown around the idea of becoming a motivational speaker to share his story with others.


Teresa Bush, a teacher for the visually impaired and one of Luk's teachers for the past four years, describes him as driven, determined and very intelligent.


Bush said she has no doubt that there are great things in store for the student she calls "an inspiration to everyone."


"He has a goal in life to succeed," Bush said. "He doesn't see being blind as an impediment and he works hard to get what he wants."


http://www.sgvtribune.com/education/ci_15317526 Source: San Gabriel Valley Tribune