From: Hastings, MN
“When I was born in 1991, newborn hearing screenings weren’t widely implemented, so my hearing loss went unnoticed through my infancy. I was 2 ½ when I had a majority of my surgical procedures done and a prosthetic was implanted, but it didn’t set properly. I had a unilateral flat moderate loss at about 60 dB HL in my right ear. I was lucky enough that my mom recognized my hearing loss at a young age and got me the best doctors. I was able to utilize a soundfield system during kindergarten and first grade, and received my first hearing aid/ FM system in second grade.”
Rachel says that was the first time that she remembered experiencing hearing loss. She also recalls having to choose her seat carefully in school, and her struggles while on the playground.
“I noticed enough of a difference with my hearing loss that I asked my parents for a second prosthetic surgery when I was in seventh grade. There were specific situations where I struggled more than others, but having a good ear on my left side allowed me to participate normally in everything.”
Rachel is now a student at A.T. Still University Arizona School of Health Sciences, where she will receive her Doctorate in Audiology in a about a year and a half. Her hearing aid has helped her in graduate level classrooms, and during her clinical rotations.
Rachel is an active member of her school’s chapter of SAA (Student Academy of Audiology) where they promote healthy hearing and listening throughout the community. They promote activities such as H.E.A.R. Day, sponsoring families over the holidays, giving time to local hearing aid donation centers, and more.
Hearing better has affected both Rachel’s professional and personal life in various ways. “My loved ones can usually tell if I’m wearing a hearing aid or not, but they definitely prefer it when I do. I notice it a lot when I’m talking in the car as I’m driving because if I were to go on any long distance trips I would ask my passengers to talk loudly In order for me to understand them. I now don’t have to ask them for as many repetitions now because of my hearing aid.
Within my professional life, “I was able to relate with my patients who are wearing, or should be wearing hearing devices. It allowed me to understand exactly what they are feeling and hearing gives me empathy to a higher degree than my non-hearing impaired collogues.”
“I am thrilled to be named a HearStrong Champion. I chose this profession as an audiologist because I want to inspire others with hearing loss do something about it. This is an amazing opportunity to get the word out there even more because young adults can have hearing loss too and wearing devices can help.”
She advises those unsure about seeking assistance with their hearing to consider the possibility of wearing hearing aids. “The stigma of hearing aids associated with hearing loss is still present, and I would love to see that change during my professional career.”
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