He's been totally blind since childhood – and now wants to be a teacher

WAIPAHU, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - When he was in high school, Gensen Rabacal struggled in English class. Still, he chose to focus on that subject in college as a personal challenge.

At just 28-years-old, his life has already been filled with challenges.

"When I was six months old, I was diagnosed with retinal blastoma," he said.

To keep the cancer from spreading, doctors removed his eyes.

He's been blind for virtually his entire life. He now wears prosthetic eyes – and has a bold vision for his future.

"I want to be a teacher," he says.

In December, Rabacal graduated from Chaminade University with a bachelor's degree in secondary English. Despite being blind, he says wants to teach English to high school or middle school students, and believes he has a lot to offer.

"A lot of times, teachers are focused on the content and the objective. For me I get to focus on that, but I also get to focus on, 'Don't let your limitations get in the way of making yourself successful,'" he said.

Rabacal has spent this school year as a student teacher at Highlands Intermediate.

"A lot of them had never seen a blind guy before," he said, smiling.

Because his students didn't have computers, their papers were handwritten, forcing him to find a creative way to review their work. He asked for help from friends and family.

"I said, 'Hey, would you be willing to grab a cup of coffee and grade some papers with me?' I gave them what I was looking for. They would read it, paper by paper. It was a long process but we managed to get through it," he said.

Rabacal has turned in an application to the Department of Education for a teaching position. There are currently no totally blind teachers in Hawaii's public schools.

He hopes a daring principal will give him a chance.

"Just showing them that I can manage a classroom just like anybody else. I can teach content just like everybody else," he says. "The only thing that is different is I have to teach outside the box."

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