Meet Erika Breen. She is currently an associate with the law firm Easton Hillier Lawrence Preston in Gander, NL. Erika graduated from Memorial University in 2009 with a Bachelor of Business Administration (Hons), and then attended the University of New Brunswick to study law from 2010 to 2013. When asked why she decided to study law, Erika replied “law just seemed like a natural progression in my career. I have always had a passion for advocacy and the study of law just enhances that passion.”
Erika made use of technology and hearing supports during her time in law school. She always wore her two hearing aids, which she calls her “lifeline.” Erika also used an FM System during classes, group projects, and presentations. She availed of the student accessibility centre on campus to assist her with accommodating for her hearing loss in the law faculty, which can be an intimidating environment.
Erika believes that her hearing loss has helped her in her career so far. She had to develop strong listening skills as a person with hearing loss, and uses this skill to better communicate with clients, judges, and other lawyers. Erika says that because she always had to work a little bit harder to get where she is, she developed great organization and time management skills, as well as perseverance.
Erika’s message for students with hearing loss is that although there will be challenges, don’t give up. She says there is always something to learn from difficult situations and apply them in your future career, “with that being said, you are never alone.” Erika believes that taking the initiative to figure out what supports you need and then seeking support from organizations like the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association-Newfoundland and Labrador (CHHA-NL), student accessibility centers, as well as professors or teachers, can make a big difference, “they are there to help you put things in place.”
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