ECU student hopes to inspire others with scholarship

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – Despite only being able to hear out of her left ear as a child, Elana Lapetina isn’t letting anything stop her.

“A lot of the surgeries had to take skin from my body, they would have to graft it, so what you see right here isn’t what I was born with. I was born with nothing,” said ECU Sophomore Elana Lapetina.

She’s now able to hear via vibrations and a bone-anchored hearing aid. She uses these to help her pursue her passions.

From being featured in the “Pharrell Williams Voices of Fire” documentary on Netflix to staring in Moana, Disney’s first off-broadway production, Lapetina, has been busy. She wants to encourage others to follow their dreams.

“It was really cool to see people reach out and be like I was born with the same condition or I love how you’re singing and you have hearing loss. It’s really cool to inspire others through music and creativity and that your disability doesn’t define you,” said Lapetina.

Madison Krizmanich has known Lapentina for around a year and says she was struck by how strong her friend is.

“She has to go above to kind of meet the same level because we’re in musical theater but the thing is she constantly raises the bar. Even though she has to work harder, you would never in a million years know that,” said Krizmanich.

The sophomore won a scholarship from Cochlear and will use the money to continue honing her theatrical and vocal skills.

“This scholarship really means a lot to me because it’s really personal. Just having been partially deaf and having physical deformity all my life has kind of shaped who I am, but it’s great to inspire others through the scholarship and through my education,” said Lapetina.

Lapetina will get $2,000 for four years for being a winner of the Cochlear scholarship, totaling $8,000 for her education.

Lapetina was one of eight scholarship winners this year out of 188 applications.