Campos shares her view of the world as a blind student

Junior Davion Smith assist Emily Campos through the choir room.  Emily has been blind since birth and Davion has been friends with her for many years. (Karla Estrada Photo)
Junior Davion Smith assist Emily Campos through the choir room. Emily has been blind since birth and Davion has been friends with her for many years. (Karla Estrada Photo)

Emily Campos walked into dimly lit room and sat down on an old wooden bench. The small square room was packed to its capacity causing some of the viewers to be shoulder to shoulder on the floor. As the crowd stared silently, she wondered how many people were there. Her partner Davion sat beside her as she began plucking the acoustic guitar she held close to her side. Campos began to croon out a cozy love song with her partner. Her voice glowed during the performance, as the two struck a clean harmony together. The crowd smiled, some cuddled and some swayed to the relaxed beat. It was a beautiful occasion. At that moment her partner only wished that Emily wasn’t blind so she could actually see the crowd as they showed their amazement at her talent.

Campos is now a sophomore at Duncanville High School. She has been legally blind girl since birth. Campos said she travels around the school with the hope that she will not be treated different from her classmates who can see. This is one thing she has hoped for since she was in grade school as part of the special education program.

“During that part of my life I realized that a lot of us were ignored by regular kids and I learned from that,” Campos said. “I don’t want people to feel how I felt growing up so I accept diversity and try not judge anyone.”

Campos remembers being neglected through most of her grade school years by her peers. She said she still remembers the rude remarks about her shy character. She said it was this loneliness that paved a way for a new sense of independency as she grew older.

“I always try to do everything by myself,” Campos said. “I don’t really ask for a lot of help unless it’s really needed other than that I won’t ask for it.”

The most common help Emily receives is the use of a guide throughout the day to get from one class to another in the the large school that she has never seen. As she navigates the halls with her red and white walking cane she is guided by a peer from class to class. Teacher Kimberly baker said she remembers the first day she saw Campos during a staff development day.

“She was here at school on her own a week before school, by herself, trying to locate her classes,” Baker said. “I thought that was just incredible that she was on her own, committing her route to memory.”

Campos said she chose to attend the high school instead of a blind school not only for herself but for all of the blind community which she believes is misrepresented in the media and misunderstood by the public.

“Everything that I do represents how people look at us as blind people,” Campos said. “They think that we can’t do a lot of things and when we do it they get surprised.”

Campos said she still remembers being misjudged by her teachers and the school system during her younger years. She said this was even more of an inspiration for her to high school to prove the naysayers wrong.

“Kids in elementary school would make fun of me because I was in Special Ed classes,” Campos said. “Teachers thought I was slower because I couldn’t see when in reality my family just couldn’t afford the tools to assist me.”

Though Emily is bind she refuses to let it hinder her from from attending the school and represent the blind community. She even involves herself in all the extracurricular activities she can, including choir and theater. Campos admits this is the area she wishes to pursue it’s her dream to pursue these avenues after high school.

“I have family members that don’t believe in me when I say I want to go to college and major in the arts,” Campos said. “Even some of my friends say ‘Oh you can’t do that, You did good in the play but what about reading a script? What about your transportation?’ I just tell them I’m not sure, but I have to have faith that I’ll figure that out when I get there.”

Junior Emily Campos sits at the piano and stares to the sky as she begins to make music and sing. Emily has been blind all her life but has taught herself to play and sing without ever seeing the audience she entertains. (Karla Estrada photo)
Junior Emily Campos sits at the piano and stares to the sky as she begins to make music and sing. Emily has been blind all her life but has taught herself to play and sing without ever seeing the audience she entertains. (Karla Estrada photo)

Just like her peers, Emily admits she has her own fears. But she said she is determined to follow her dreams regardless.

“Sometimes I think to myself about casting and roles, and I do fear that being blind will affect me, and hinder me from getting good roles,” Campos said. “I know I can do it. It might take more time, but I can practice and perform and get a role.”

Campos said she has always had a love for the fine arts since she was a young girl and claims her first love is music. This became obvious when she was a young child.

“I realized that Emily was musically talented at the age of three when she came in with a toy drum she recieved from her uncle for Christmas and belterd out “ABC” by the Jackson Five,” Emily’s mother Flor Medina said. “She was amazingly on key for her young age!”

Admittedly Campos mother wasn’t always sure she would be able to participate in the community and was saddened when she found out Emily was blind due to her inexperiance with children, let along a child with what she called a “disbaility. Since Emily was her first born she said was a new and scary experience for her.

“When I first found out about Emily’s blindness I was worried about how to take care of a child with an disability,” Medina said. “I remember I used to ask God, ‘Why would you do this this to me?’ But now I realize how much of an blessing she is to have in my life.”

What was seen as a “disability” by others, Emily said she saw differently.

“I don’t see being blind as an disability,” Campos said. “I see it as an obstacle and everyone has those. This just makes me stronger in more ways than weaker.”

Emily said being blind has affected her views of life and that sometimes she’s actually grateful for not having sight. She said she remembers living in Mexico when she was young knowing there was a lot of poverty and sadness but this did not affect her.

“I can’t see the ugliness of the world,” Campos said. “Because I’m blind if I walk past people in poverty, I won’t know because I can’t see what they are wearing or what they are carrying. Everyone just blends in with the crowd unless they ask for my money. When they do this I give to them.”

Campos said she just views everyone the same. She wants the best for all of humanity and being blind she can just choose to visualize everyone that way.

“I can just imagine people around me as everyday people, with a home and family, because that’s what we all want for everyone,” Campos said. “I want that for every person in the world.”

Campos said she she remembers being homeless as a young child. Though she said she is in a much different situation now, she said it taught her to be a better person.

“Money was tight, and I couldn’t get a lot of things, but I think that taught me to appreciate what you have,” Campos said. “I feel like a lot of kids have been given everything in their life and have everything handed to them. That’s not what it’s like in the real world and I realize that.”

Ms. Medina said this was a difficiult time for the family, and hopes that she has taught her daughter everything that’s needed before sending her off into the world.

“My hope for Emily is that she becomes a strong young woman who doesn’t suffer like we had to when she was young,” Medina said. “I don’t want her ever to go through something like that again.”

Junior Davion Smith sings a special piece in the play with his friend Emily who is blind. (Taryn Marceleno)
Junior Davion Smith sings a special piece in the play with his friend Emily who is blind. (Taryn Marceleno)

With the help of Campos’ friends and family she said she is on the road to becoming a strong young woman. Emily insist she wouldn’t be anywhere without the guidance of her teacher Ms. Baker.

“Ms. Baker honestly helped me get through freshman year,” Campos said. “She helped me figure out a lot of things about myself.”

The two of them bonded over the summer when Baker initially gave Campos her email to turn in an assignment. Afterwards during the summer Campos struggled with depression of her life and said she leaned on Baker for advice. The pair began to interact over email, building a stronger relationship over the months by interchanging words.

“She gave me some advice,” Campos said. So I would go and read them every time I had a problem,whenever I felt like no one cared. I would remember Ms. Baker does. We have such a close relationship. She’s another mother to me.”

Baker was just as motivated and changed by Campos as Campos was by her. Baker said she is inspired everyday by Campos.

“She is one tough cookie,” Baker said. “This is very evident because Emily never takes the easy route. Instead she challenges herself at every turn, at every possibility.”

Though Campos admits she ones had a dim outlook on life she said she now focuses on changing the way she thinks and on the positives, such as her friends, family and her dreams.

“Now I just aim to be a postive light to the others around me,” Campos said.

She admit that her biggest inspiration comes from the late entertainer Michael Jackson.

“I remember my mom had everything to do with Michael Jackson, so his music was always blasting at our house,” Campos said. “He’s one of my first memories of music. I’d wake up to his music and it’s almost like he was always been there.”

She said there is one special song by Jackson that she listens to overtime she is feeling down.

“When I first met my best friend, we were on the phone and he was listening to “I’ll be there” by Michael Jackson,” Campos said. “He said to me, ‘I want this to be our song.’ I remember my mom would sing it to me at night or play it because it would help me sleep because I’d know that someone would be there, always.”

Campos said she wants to be the type of friend that is always there for those around her. This is because she remembers being young and feeling like she had no one. It is this attitude that has helped her develop friendships.

“Emily is always a good friend, that can be blunt, but she always has something nice and positive to say,” Campos best friend Cecilia Vasques said. “When I feel like I am in a dark corner she is the one I talk to.”

Campos said it is friends like Vasquez that she becomes more grateful for every day of her life.

“My eye isn’t even mine, what you see isn’t my eye,” Campos said. “I was born blind missing half of my eye, which is blue, this fake brown eye that you see was inserted where my real eye was. For that alone I should be grateful.”

Campos’ father Victor Leal met her later in her life at the age of seven. He said he has been heavilty impacted by Campos and the many lessons she has taught him about the blind community and even life.

“I’ve learned they are people just like us and they can do just as much or more than we can at times,” Leal said. “She has taught me that she doesn’t have a disability, rather she has an obstacle to overcome.”

Emily hopes to continue school and follow her dreams and work hard to be accepted by peers and treated with equality. She said she believes she is capable of anything she puts her mind to. She in the process of learning piano after becoming skilled with the guitar. She also said her love for the performing arts has driven her to pursue her goals in life.

“I feel like I can put all of the emotion I have inside me into every performance,” Even though it has nothing to do with what I am going through as a blind person, I realize this is what I want to do for the rest of my life and professionally.”