Champion - Shannon Hurlbut

Student • Aspiring Veterinary Technician

From: Lake Villa, Illinois

Experiencing Hearing Loss

At birth, Shannon experienced many health issues that required medication, which is suspected to be the reason behind her hearing loss. Shannon was diagnosed with hearing loss weeks after she was born.

"I received hearing aids for both ears at ten months [of age] and began speech therapy," says Shannon.

She recalls her second, higher performing hearing aids and how they opened her eyes to new sounds.

"As we walked out of the audiologist’s office to the car, I could hear my mom’s high heels on the pavement and the cars driving on the nearby highway," she says. "I also recall another time when I heard a strange sound outside. My mom said that it was rain."

At 9 1/2, Shannon received a cochlear implant in her left ear to help her hear better, and still uses a hearing aid on her right ear.

Today Shannon is 19 years old and recognizes that her hearing devices not only help her succeed, but also help those around her best communicate with her.

Shannon’s Accomplishments

Shannon recently graduated from high school where she was an active participant in her community through athletics, extracurricular activities, and volunteering. In fact, she spent almost 100 hours volunteering for various organizations.

"In high school I was involved in the National Honor Society, S.A.L.T. (Student Athlete Leadership Team), Key Club and Cum Laude," Shannon says. "I also played for the Girls Varsity Basketball team, Girls Varsity Track. I played Feeder basketball, AAU competitive spring basketball and was on summer basketball leagues too."

In the fall, Shannon will be attending the International Business College for Veterinary Technology.

Her Inspiration

Shannon’s older sister is her biggest role model.

"She strives to work 110% at everything," Shannon says. "She has given me the drive to work extremely hard to succeed regardless of my challenges. Before I started middle school I told my mom I wanted to model my older sister and earn straight A’s every quarter for three consecutive years. So I worked hard and achieved my goal, even though the deck was stacked high against me."

Why Shannon is a HearStrong Champion

Shannon prides herself in being an advocate for her hearing loss and hearing devices. She believes they provide extensive benefits that help her succeed in all aspects of her life.

"My hearing devices [help] me achieve my academic and personal goals," she says. "I have learned [not] to use my loss of hearing as an excuse for not obtaining my goals, and I believe that I can help instill that important message to others."

Shannon believes that being a teenager allows her to connect with a younger demographic that have hearing loss, and can help them feel less embarrassed to have hearing loss.

"Having a hearing a loss should not be how people identify me," Shannon proclaims. "I embrace who I am and want to be known as a smart, compassionate and funny person, who just happens to have a hearing loss."

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