Samantha Porter, Production Lead Aerospace
Samantha Porter is a resilient young woman with a bright future. Originally from Wisconsin, Samantha first heard about The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc. in 2011 when she attended the DeafBlind Retreat on Hood Canal in Seabeck, WA, and moved to Seattle to begin working at the Lighthouse one year later. “The retreat is full of DeafBlind people from all over the world and it was an amazing experience for me,” she says. “I promised myself that someday I would live in Seattle because the community and weather were perfect for me and my vision condition.”
Once at the Lighthouse, she moved quickly from working in the packaging department to Production Lead Aerospace, where she has been for six years now. Samantha was voted by her peers as the 2018 Indirect Employee of the Year. She’s driven to succeed and has learned lessons about how to be a leader.
“Working at the Lighthouse has taught me how to be professional, how to be sensitive to others, and how to be flexible and strict at the same time,” she says. Samantha is going through the Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee’s (AJAC) Industrial Manufacturing Technician apprenticeship program to learn critical industrial manufacturing skills in safety, industrial manufacturing basics, production processes, machine maintenance, shop math and communications. After she completes the apprenticeship, Samantha will be able to teach employees who are blind and DeafBlind about aerospace manufacturing.
Samantha has faced adversity in her life. When she was 14 years old, she learned that she had Usher Syndrome, which causes partial or total hearing loss and vision loss that worsens over time. It took time for her to adjust to the news, and to find her path forward. “It took me three years to adjust, and I finally learned to accept my identity. I am proud to be DeafBlind.”
Samantha Porter, at her workstation at the Seattle facility.
Like many others who learn pro-tactile American Sign Language (ASL), she has realized the benefits of it. “I am starting to use pro-tactile ASL a lot, even though I can still see well. I just completely fell in love with it. It’s hard to describe, but for you to experience it, you have to have an open mind and open heart, and you can experience life with the people around you.” As for her future, Samantha plans to keep learning and growing.
“It’s frustrating because there’s no prediction on how changes to my sight will occur, or when it will happen. You just have to embrace your life and keep going. That’s what I am doing now. I am grabbing my time to travel the world as much as I can, so I can embrace the memories that I have in my head as my imagination.”
“Honestly, I wouldn’t trade it for anything, to restore my vision. I do have bad days, but it doesn’t mean that I have to give up. If I gave up, I wouldn’t be here to tell this story.”