Pursuing a double major in Chinese studies and journalism would be challenge enough for most people, but Anthony Vasquez achieved it without his sight. The son of Mexican immigrants and a first-generation college student, Vasquez was born with glaucoma in both eyes. With assistance from Disabled Student Services, he used Braille and specialized software to learn Mandarin Chinese. Accepted into the University Honors Program in 2005, he earned a place on the President’s and Dean’s Lists with a 3.895 GPA and was a member of several honor societies. In May, Vasquez was the outstanding graduate of the College of Liberal Arts.
Vasquez has never allowed himself to be limited by his disability. While enrolled at the university, Vasquez attended the Ethnographic Film School in China, where he co-wrote and co-produced a short film titled “Unimpaired” about his personal experience as a visually impaired tourist and student in China, and he participated in the University of Arizona’s summer study abroad program at Nanjing Normal University, where he studied China’s current political, economic and social conditions. Back on campus, Vasquez was a contributing writer and assistant online editor for the Daily 49er student newspaper and hosted the “Dare to Listen” program for CSULB’s K-Beach radio station.
Following graduation, Vasquez will attend Stanford University to earn his master’s degree in Asian studies. After Stanford, he hopes to work for a news agency doing international reporting about China or possibly U.S.-China issues as a writer, commentator, correspondent or columnist.
“I want to educate people that blindness is not a punishment,” he said. “I just happen to be blind but I don’t let it dominate my life. I could, but I have learned to live with it. And I know I can help others by helping myself.”