Michelle is currently completing a Master of Science degree in Human Communication Disorders (Audiology) at Dalhousie University. She has just completed her first of three years of study.
Michelle was diagnosed at the age of 5 with a bilateral moderately severe hearing loss. The cause is unknown but is thought to be genetic; her older sister also has a hearing loss that was present from birth.
From an early age Michelle has wanted to work in the healthcare field. She chose to study audiology specifically because she had a special appreciation for audiologists and the work they do. Michelle’s choice was a personal one.
“There is no doubt that having a hearing loss can be very debilitating and reduce the quality of life of individuals. I chose this career because I want to be able to help others in the ways my own audiologists’ have helped me.”
The audiology program teaches students to perform hearing assessments, administer diagnostic tests, fit amplification devices such as hearing aids or cochlear implants, screen the hearing of newborns, rehabilitate individuals with hearing loss and educate the public about the effects of noise exposure.
When asked if her hearing loss had helped her in any way Michelle knew that her hearing loss was an asset to the work she’s doing.
“I was able to enter the program with background knowledge regarding hearing assessments, diagnostic tests and hearing aids. Therefore I was already familiar with some of the material being taught to me, making it easier to learn and gain a deep understanding. I also think that having a hearing loss makes me extra motivated to learn. It is always nice to learn about something that affects you so deeply.”
Michelle makes the most of hearing technology. In school she uses two behind the ear hearing aids as well as an FM system. Both technologies are helping her hear to the best of her ability and ensure she can succeed in the classroom.
“Without these technologies I would find it immensely difficult to follow what my professors and classmates are saying.”
Michelle first became involved with CHHA-NL in 2008 when she attended a hearing loss conference called “Youth Vibrations”. She has been involved with CHHA-NL ever since. Just last year she attended the same conference as a member of the panel discussion board.
“I can’t express how important my involvement with CHHA-NL has been and the impact it has had on me. Attending conferences as both a teenager and an adult has made me more confident and helped me self-identify as a person with a hearing loss, which I believe, is the key to my success. My involvement with CHHA-NL also has educational merit; I was always educated about the supports available to me at the high school and university level.”
CHHA-NL offers 4 scholarships to students who are hard of hearing or deaf. Michelle, the incredibly motivated and intelligent student that she is, has received 3 of the scholarships throughout her studies.
“These scholarships have gone a long way in furthering my education. I am truly grateful for CHHA-NL and the hard work they put into helping individuals like me.”
Michelle has some advice to others students with hearing loss:
“Don’t ever let your hearing loss hold you back from achieving your dreams. You can achieve whatever you put your mind to. Of course there will be days when you will feel like giving up; I know that all too well but it is important to recognize that your hearing loss doesn’t have to be a disability. Advocate for yourself, take advantage of the supports available to you and you will be well on your way to achieving your goals.”