Carly Becknell being crowned at a pageant with Brinkley

Leading as an example for all youth to excel

Recently, the name Carly Becknell has made headlines all over the Southeast and around the nation. Carly is an 18 year old blog operator and writer who has just currently been crowned Miss SC Strawberry Festival Queen in Fort Mill, South Carolina. Carly has achieved these great awards despite being diagnosed with Usher Syndrome, which has affected her hearing and vision. Usher Syndrome is characterized by hearing loss caused by a defective inner ear, as well as visual impairment resulting from retinitis pigmentosa (RP). Carly experienced hearing loss early and with a cochlear implant and therapy has regained hearing and speech skills that are exceedingly superior to the typical prognosis for her condition. However Carly’s visual impairment is non corrective.

Carly will graduate high school this year and pursue her college education in the fall all while continuing to expand her blog and participate in more pageants. Her goal is to inform and to help those around her learn about Usher Syndrome and about other visual impairments and how to outshine them. With the support of her family, and with her guide dog and best friend Brinkley by her side, Carly will be unstoppable.

Carly Becknell with family and Brinkley after a pageant

Question and Answer with Carly Becknell

APH CareerConnect: When were you first diagnosed with Usher Syndrome?

Carly Becknell: I was diagnosed with Usher Syndrome in January of 2013.

APH CareerConnect: Do you use a white cane or guide dog for travel?

Carly Becknell: I had to learn how to use a white cane in order to get a guide dog. I have guide dog Brinkley from Guiding Eyes for the Blind. I was flown to New York last summer for a month to get Brinkley.

APH CareerConnect: What types of assistive technology do you use for your daily life and for school?

Carly Becknell: I use an I-pad, and my teachers use their smart board microphones in the classroom.

APH CareerConnect: Did you have a teacher of the visually impaired?

Carly Becknell: Yes, I still currently have a teacher of the visually impaired. Jill Fowler is my Braille teacher and has inspired me to be one just like her. That is what I am going to college for.

APH CareerConnect: Did you receive other services such as orientation and mobility or transition services?

Carly Becknell: Yes, I received white cane training to get Brinkley.

APH CareerConnect: How did you get involved with pageants?

Carly Becknell: Ever since I have gotten Brinkley, he gave me my confidence and independence back. So when my High school said they were accepting applicants for their yearly high school pageant. I figured, “hey why not give it a shot” and ever since that pageant and the great support I was given throughout the whole thing made me want to go for the SC Strawberry Festival Pageant. So I ended up getting crowned as Miss Senior and Miss Congenitally at the high school and crowned as Miss SC Strawberry Festival Queen.

APH CareerConnect: What are your plans after graduation?

Carly Becknell: Plans after graduation are to go to York Tech and transfer into Winthrop University to graduate with an under graduate degree in Special Education then doing some online work with USC Upstate to be a VI.

APH CareerConnect: How did you begin creating and writing your blog?

Carly Becknell: After being diagnosed with Usher syndrome as a 10th grader I went to the dark side. I started to do self-harm. Then one day our teacher assigned a paper about a change in our life. So I wrote about being diagnosed with Usher Syndrome and it made me realize how much it felt better to write about it. Because it felt like my emotions and anger were running through my fingers. So one day I decided to create my own face book page called Eye2Eye. So ever since then I have been blogging and turning my negative into a positive.

APH CareerConnect: What is your favorite part about pageants?

Carly Becknell: My favorite part about pageant is showing everyone that just because I am a little bit different doesn’t mean I can’t do it. It is my way of reaching out to others saying, “hey step out of yourself for a little bit”. You have to face your fears one day right?

APH CareerConnect: Do you plan on doing more pageants in the future, if so which ones?

Carly Becknell: Yes, I plan on being a part of the USA system. I will compete for Miss SC then move my way up to Miss USA.

APH CareerConnect: Do you have anyone in your life you consider a mentor?

Carly Becknell: Yes, my mom. Because she has always pushed me to achieve the impossible.

APH CareerConnect: Does Brinkley accompany you on stage during pageants and if so does he also dress up?

Carly Becknell:Yes Brinkley accompanies me on stage during pageants and he has a black bow tie he wears.

APH CareerConnect: What piece of advice would you give to other teenagers who are experiencing Usher Syndrome or other disabilities?

Carly Becknell:A piece of advice I would give to other teenagers who are experiencing Usher Syndrome or other disabilities is to never give up. That they need to understand there is a reason why they were chosen to live this kind of live is to educate those other around you about Usher Syndrome or other disabilities.

APH CareerConnect:What piece of advice would you give to others who want to start a blog?

Carly Becknell: Advice I would give to someone who wants to start a blog is to make sure it is inspirational, have the time to keep up with it, make sure it tells a story, post every week, use the right language and manners.

APH CareerConnect:What is a goal you have set for yourself this year?

Carly Becknell: A goal that I have set for myself is to be able to sign with other deaf people like be able to have a conversation. And to gain past 1000 followers on my blog.

APH CareerConnect: What are you most looking forward to in the future?

Carly Becknell: I am most looking forward to is college, and what new obstacles are coming my way as I experience college.

Carly Becknell on stage with Brinkley

Follow and Support Carly’s Mission

Carly’s blog Eye 2 Eye has gained rapid followers since its creation and only continues to get views. To follow Carly’s blog and learn more about EyeToEye, click HERE.

Also, follow Brinkley and Carly on the Eye 2 Eye Facebook page and their Instagram at @guidemebrinks

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