LAVAL - Graduation is a time of reflection for all high school students, and for one Laval teenager, looking back on her accomplishments is a school-wide celebration.

When Lisa Mezza first walked through the doors at the CDC Vimont Adult Education Centre, she had to overcome major hurdles.

Mezza is deaf, and the school had no resources for the hearing impaired.

"At the beginning when she came in, nobody in the centre knew sign language to help Lisa and it was difficult to get an interpreter, so she started by sharing with teachers through writing," said Gina Persechino of the adult centre.

Within a year, Lisa implemented sign language classes for students and teachers, earning her a provincial entrepreneurship award for her initiative.

"It makes me feel extremely proud," said Mezza through an interpreter. "I never gave up. I persevered. I work very, very hard. In my mind, I can't give up. I was very patient and I worked very hard to succeed."

Mezza is headed to Vanier College next year, but the impact she leaves behind at CDC Vimont will last for years to come, said teachers and students.

Her influence helped math teacher Ian Cavanagh discover a passion for deaf literacy, leading him to pursue a Master's degree on the topic.

"It's (about) more than just a hand signal for a word; there's your expression and the speed," he explained.

Mezza's mother Felicia Piccolo said she never doubted her daughter was capable of great things.

"I knew she was going to go somewhere; she was going to come out with a diploma which is what she's dreamed of all her life," she said.