Overcoming Obstacles: Jorge
HOW does Jorge hear?
With an outgoing personality, a can-do attitude...
and a bone anchored hearing aid!
All About Me
Hi, I’m Jorge, and I am 18-years-old. I recently graduated high school in Riverside, California and just began my freshman year at Rochester Institute for Technology-NTID in New York. I am studying to be a Physician Assistant because I love helping people!
Hearing My Way
I was born with microtia in one ear, which causes single-sided hearing loss because I have an undeveloped outer ear and ear canal. In elementary school, I wore an FM system, but it only amplified my ear with typical hearing, not my ear with hearing loss. I wanted a better solution and went through 10 reconstructive surgeries to try to build an outer ear and ear canal. When these didn’t work, I decided it was time to try something different. After a trial with a bone anchored hearing aid, I knew the Cochlear BAHA would be right for me. I had the surgery as a teenager and have loved it ever since!
Fun & Friends
I love being around people and doing lots of activities. At school I was president of the ASL Club and played soccer, my favorite sport. I am hooked on going to Escape Rooms with my friends on the weekends, and on vacations I love to visit my family in Mexico. The activity that meant the most to me was my Health Academy Internship through school, where I had the opportunity to observe and volunteer at my local hospital for 12 weeks. It inspired me to pursue my career in health!
I have been fortunate to have great academic and emotional support throughout school. I have an amazing relationship with two of my teachers: Theresa Copple, the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Itinerant Teacher with Riverside County Of ce of Education, and Kathleen Tejeda, a Special Education Case Manager with Alvord Uni ed School District. When our school district had the opportunity to pilot 24 Phonak Dynamic Soundfield Systems, I recognized what a challenge it could be for my teachers (who serve students at up to 19 different schools!) to implement. We decided I would be the point-person for this new technology at my high school. I taught myself how to use it, created a training video, led an in-service with all of the general education teachers receiving the equipment, and followed up 1 on 1 to ensure things were going smoothly. Even though this was a lot of work, I felt so inspired and motivated knowing I could help not only students with hearing loss like myself, but all students, to hear better!
My energy even began to inspire other students with hearing loss—even those who had not wanted to use assistive devices before—to take advantage of resources and accept themselves. My friend with microtia agreed to try on a BAHA softband and cried! Even friends who didn’t have hearing loss loved the sound eld systems. At the end of the year, it wasn’t just me running the program; everyone pitched in to help safely disassemble the technology and store the systems for the following year. Now that I’ve graduated, I’ve even trained a younger student to lead the Dynamic Soundfield training program!
My surgeon, Dr. Pham, has made a big difference in my life. I watched how he took a true team approach by working with my teacher Theresa and case carrier Kathleen to provide me the best care. Their partnership inspired me to do greater good in the world because they were dedicated to helping me all my life. As a Physician Assistant, or one day perhaps a pediatrician or surgeon, I hope to put as much effort and care into working with my patients. I think it’s important to have a goal and share it with others. Once I asked for help from my support team in reaching my goal of being in the medical field, they helped me to create action steps and find programs such as my Health Academy Internship. Help is there if you ask for it and embrace it!
Yes I Can
Last year, I received the “Yes I Can” Award in the technology category from the Council for Exceptional Children. I felt so honored to be recognized for my work cataloging and troubleshooting the soundfield equipment at my school and creating my video, “How to Use the Phonak Dynamic Soundfield Digimaster
5000.” I was able to bring my family and teachers to the awards ceremony with me thanks to the generosity of my school district.
My best advice is to take advantage of the resources and support that you are offered. When I was younger, I fought the FM system, but now that I am older and have the right device, I bene t so much from my hearing technology. My classmates have also learned to embrace resources rather than fight them.
I have learned over the years that the best way to be included is to come into the room with a smile and a positive personality. I know that I cannot control what other people say or do. All I can control is my response to it. So if someone says something that isn’t nice, I just laugh it off and don’t respond. I choose to be happy and not focus on the negative. It won’t stop me from living my life!
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