Champion - Juan Carlos Cornejo

Track Athlete • Student

From: Hamburg, NJ

An Athlete with Hearing Loss

Juan was only 21 months old when he was fit for his first hearing device. “I don’t remember since I was a toddler,” he says. “But my life has always seemed normal to me.”

When Juan began high school, he joined track and field and found he was skilled at throwing. He participated in javelin and shotput events, but decided to focus his efforts on discus.

“As the only deaf athlete in my school participating in throwing events, it was not easy communicating with my hearing teammates,” says Juan. “I was a little frustrated since I could not always communicate, ask for help, or have general conversations. However, I did not let that stop me. During my senior year, I achieved my highest throwing distance at discus of 130.4 feet. No other male deaf or hard of hearing athlete had made it to the sectional state and group championships in discus. I was the first.”

Juan achieved the second highest discus distance in his high school, and he will continue to participate in track and field at Gallaudet University where he is studying accounting.

The Importance of Cochlear Implants

Juan has a cochlear implant, and it has been very important in helping him succeed socially and academically.

“I have hearing and hard of hearing friends who are able to speak to me, and use American Sign Language simultaneously. Being able to interact in both worlds is great,” he says.

He received a new implant in July of 2015, and it helped him excel in school and better his language and listening abilities in his final year of high school.

“I wanted to be able to be successful in college and improve my English and Math skills. This year, I have worked hard and my grades prove that. I have all A’s,” he says.

Why Juan is a HearStrong Champion

Juan is a HearStrong Champion because he is always dedicated to bettering himself, as well as the lives of others. He is actively involved in his community and volunteers for the Junior National Association for the Deaf, Spanish Family Night, and as a mathematics tutor for his deaf peers. He is an advocate for those with hearing loss, and believes more should be done to bridge the gap between the hearing and d/Deaf individuals.

“If people have access to cochlear implants, hearing aids, and ASL, they would not face as much adversity. There would be open communication,” Juan says.

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