From: Belchertown, MA
When Jake was born, his parents had his hearing tested immediately because his older brother, Patrick, was born profoundly deaf. The evaluation revealed that Jake shared his brother's hearing loss, and he started wearing hearing aids for the first four years of his life.
"Around the age of four, I became extremely frustrated during speech therapy, something I had excitedly looked forward to," says Jake. "This sudden shift in mood concerned my parents, and when I was retested, my hearing had deteriorated. Then, my only options were to learn American Sign Language and become part of the Deaf community, or to have a cochlear implant. My parents and I chose the implant, which I got in my left ear. I haven't gotten a second, nor do I plan to."
Jake recalls some of the first sounds he heard after getting his implant. One of these sounds was his mom buttering his toast in the morning. He remembers standing in the kitchen, experiencing this new sound and saying, "Mommy, I didn't know toast could talk!"
Today, Jake attends Syracuse University in the School of Design where he majors in Industrial Design. He achieves excellent grades and has made the Dean's List every semester. He is a part of the Syracuse Chapter of the Industrial Design Society of America where he serves on the Board as a Graphic & Communications Designer. He has also started his own business, Jake's Patches, where he sells his hand-sewn patches for jackets, backpacks, and more!
"I consider myself to be a driven and motivated person with anything in my life, and I partially believe it's due to my hearing loss," says Jake. "If something seems like it will be daunting for me—instead of steering away—I take the plunge. I am determined to prove to myself and others that my hearing loss will never stop me from doing great things."
Jake shares that his older brother has been an important role model in his life.
"He's someone I aspire to be," he says. "He's a journalist and never lets his hearing loss stop him from being out in the field interviewing people—sometimes it's really hard—and standing up for himself. He's a positive, motivated, and accepting person, even when times are tough."
Jake takes inspiration from his brother, and makes sure he advocates for himself in any situation. He says,
"I'm a huge stickler for standing up for myself, and I always encourage others to do the same! There are times when I feel uncomfortable asking for help or don't really know how to explain something, but I always make sure I somehow convey that I need something to be done, so I can succeed."
Jake is a HearStrong Champion because his positivity, openness, and sense of humor is an inspiration to all. He believes it is of utmost importance that people feel empowered to stand up for themselves and take the opportunity to teach others about their hearing loss.
"Being deaf and having a cochlear implant has been a great teaching platform," says Jake. "People don't often meet deaf people, so I'm able to share my story as well as educate. "
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