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Picture of Johnnetta B. Cole, Ph.D.
Johnnetta B. Cole, Ph.D.: Profile

Johnnetta Cole remembers being impressed by Kristi Merriweather the first time she saw her, when Merriweather was a freshman. "I was struck by the aura of enthusiasm she had," Cole said. "I remember being quite unaware that she was deaf." Kristi Merriweather may be hearing-impaired, but has not limited herself in any way. A graduate of Spelman's Class of 1994, Merriweather maintained a 4.0 average, excelled on the college tack team, was named 1991-92 Miss Black Deaf America, and was one of Glamour magazine's Top 10 1993 College Women. She is, to Cole, a genuine "shero."

"We rarely choose as a role model someone for whom life has been a breeze," Cole said. "We're almost always talking about those who, in spite of some adversity, accomplish wonderful things." Cole sees no contradiction in viewing a younger woman as a role model. "If by role models we mean those whom we profoundly respect, then in some ways we're saying, 'When I grow up, that's who I want to be.' My choice of Kristi Merriweather makes perfect sense," Cole said.

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