Champion - Kayla Dunlea

College Student • Future Teacher

From: Wayne, IL

Parental Support

"My parents knew I couldn't hear when I was an infant and they took me to the audiologist right away," said Kayla.  "They wanted to give me every opportunity to succeed to my greatest potential. My mom told me that when I first got my hearing aids, I would cry when she would take them out at night. I enjoyed hearing from the very beginning! I had traditional (behind-the-ear) hearing aids and when my hearing loss was more specifically diagnosed, BAHA implants were recommended. I wanted the surgery to see how well I could hear."

Accomplishing Goals

"I think I have accomplished many things because of my hearing devices. BAHA implants gave me the opportunity to learn in a more traditional school setting. Although I am profoundly hard of hearing, my BAHA's have given me enough sound to succeed in school as well as socially."

Kayla says one of her greatest moments was when she graduated high school.

"I have been mainstreamed since second grade, and learning with other hearing kids was not easy. Even though my BAHAs helped me tremendously, I had to work diligently in order to succeed. When I graduated St. Francis College Prep High School in Wheaton, IL, I felt an overwhelming feeling of accomplishment!"

Teaching Others

"I have tried to give back to the community to show people that people who are hard of hearing can help society as much as everyone else. I also use my hearing to advocate for myself by educating my teachers with what I can do and the adaptations needed for me to be heard clearly by others."

Currently a student at Illinois State University, Kayla is studying to become a teacher for deaf and hard-of-hearing students.

"My goal is to help others as a future pre-school teacher for deaf and hard-of-hearing students and bring awareness to the public (by) showing how people with hearing loss can achieve anything hearing people can. I would love to inspire others to use whatever is in their power to be the most successful person possible. My journey has not been easy. With hearing loss, things which come easy to others are more difficult. But with the help of BAHAs or other devices, it gives people with hearing loss a chance to succeed and, most importantly, be heard!"

Why Kayla is a HearStrong Champion

With her positive attitude, passion for educating others about hearing loss, and her bright future, Kayla embodies what it means to be a HearStrong Champion.

Poised for greatness, she's already accomplished many wonderful things, including:

  • Founding Words for Women, an organization that collects used books and donates them to various family shelters
  • Belonging to the Deaf Redbirds at Illinois State University, a group that brings greater awareness to the deaf and hard-of-hearing
  • Serving as a role model as a member of the Alpha Delta Pi Sorority



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