24-year-old Sophia M Joe was born with hearing and speech disabilities. Neither of these could, however, stop her from reaching the heights of success. Sophia is today a celebrated model and an athlete. A three-time national champion at shot put and discus throw, she has represented India at numerous international events. She is also a talented painter and jewellery designer.

Childhood was not easy for the Kochi girl. Schools wouldn’t admit her. Her brother, Richard also suffers from the same condition. “It’s neither my children’s fault nor mine. They were born this way and nothing could help their state. But people made fun of us, taunted us as if we’d committed some sin,” Sophia’s father Joe Francis told Ken Folios.

Today, Sophia has a BA degree in English Literature from St Xavier’s College and is a celebrated model and sportsperson. Her mother Goriatty told India Today, “She has grown up like any other ordinary student. Though we home-schooled her for some years, later we admitted her to an ordinary school in Kerala and trained her ourselves. We are always with her in fulfilling her ambitions and this infused much confidence in her.”

Sophia was the first runner-up in Miss India Deaf and Dumb contest in 2014 and represented India at the Miss World Deaf and Dumb Contest in Prague, Czech Republic. She has also acted in a film titled Best Wishes and is training in dance. Sophia also became the first woman from Kerala with a hearing disability to receive a driving licence, for which she went on to knock on the doors of the Delhi High Court. The talented soul aspires to become a car racer in the times to come.