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'Dancing with the Stars' winner, Gallaudet alumnus raising awareness of deaf community

'Dancing with the Stars' winner, Gallaudet alumnus raising awareness of deaf community (ABC7)

WASHINGTON (ABC7) -- Before winning the mirror ball, Nyle DiMarco took a break from the dance floor just about a month ago to return to his alma mater, Gallaudet University in Northeast, for the Academic Bowl.

Brandon McMillan grew up with DiMarco in Frederick since the sixth grade.

"Nyle has been a unifier of all of us for the whole community. And dare I say the whole world even right now," said McMillan through an interpreter.

McMillan said his friend has never seen any barriers. That attitude is inspiring the 1600 students on campus, according to DiMarco's former teacher.

"You don't need to be able to hear to succeed. You can succeed if you have access, if you have a change of attitude and perception," said Caroline Kobek Pezzarossi, DiMarco's former teacher.

DiMarco has said he takes cues from his partner to stay with the rhythm of the music, and he's all about the bass.

"When you're talking about deaf people in the community, they like a heavy bass in their music because they can feel the beat so much better," said McMillan.

DiMarco wasn't a professional dancer on campus, but he was well-known. He received his degree in 2013.

The president of the university is thrilled his two reality show wins, America's Next Top Model and Dancing with the Stars, is allowing people to have a deeper understanding of the deaf community.

"The world is asking more questions about a person being deaf. It just means that he's doing something differently," Roberta Cordano, president, Gallaudet University.

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