Johanna U., a Baha® recipient and 2017 Anders Tjellström Scholarship winner, is working as a summer intern with the Cochlear Clinical Services department. Below she talks about her hearing journey and experience with the Baha system.

Johanna sitting and staring at sunrise

When I was in kindergarten, I recognized that I could not hear well. I was diagnosed as having unilateral neuro-sensory profound hearing loss in my right ear. Even after my hearing loss was discovered, I was not given any deaf/ hard-of-hearing support from my school until the middle of first grade. Through late elementary school and middle school I worked very hard to keep up with the other kids.

By the time I got into high school, I was enrolled in honors classes and then in International Baccalaureate (IB) courses during my junior and senior years. Throughout my high school experience, I have been independent and relied on myself to get things done.

Traditional hearing aids could not help me, so I decided during my junior year of high school to undergo surgery to get an osseo-integrated auditory implant called the Baha, which has changed my life. After the surgery, I can now hear things that I would have normally missed before.

When I first started wearing my Baha, I wasn’t sure whether it made that much difference since the change seemed so subtle. After I got used to the Baha, I can definitely tell that it helps tremendously. When I don’t wear it, I can tell I’m missing vital information around me, so I wear it almost all the time. It helps me in school, social situations and in everyday life. I wear my device proudly.

Johanna standing and clicked in a garden

Through hard work I graduated from high school in June of 2016 with High Honors and with the California Golden State Seal Merit Diploma. I succeeded in IB classes and in varsity sports (golf and badminton), and I enjoy being involved in my school and local community. I am tenacious and perseverant. I have learned to be patient and transform difficult situations into better ones. I deal with different challenges every day, and I continue to learn new ways to adapt to my hearing loss.

My Baha has made a huge impact on my having access to things that many others might take for granted. Having my Baha has dramatically changed the way I hear and has opened up my ability to hear so much more than I could have before. I can now capture significantly more of a range of sound around me. When I’m wearing my Baha I can now hear whispering, music and just about everything else on my deaf side.

My experiences with my hearing loss, both the challenges and the successes, have helped shape who I am today. I am focused on doing something significant and meaningful. My hearing loss has helped shape those aspirations, as I want to create change and make the world a better place.

Johanna enjoying her summer with McKenna at Cochlear's office

This summer I am spending 10 weeks at the Cochlear Americas office as an intern in the Clinical services department. I am astounded by the amount of information I have learned in just a couple of weeks. The people I have met, and am working with, have been so kind and are generously teaching me all about their different fields. During this internship, I have had the pleasure of meeting another intern who is also a unilateral Baha recipient.

I am proud to be a recipient of Cochlear Americas Anders Tjellström Scholarship and to be working as a Clinical Studies intern for Cochlear Americas this summer. I appreciate Cochlear’s dedication to furthering the education of deaf and hard-of-hearing students. I am attending Western Washington University in Bellingham, WA as an incoming sophomore and have declared a major in Biology. I am interested in studying all aspects of life and natural science.

I am grateful to all the people at Cochlear Americas, especially for giving me these wonderful opportunities and helping further my education. I am excited to share my experience with other young people who have hearing loss so that they might see what is possible.

*Views expressed by Cochlear recipients and hearing health providers are those of the individual. Consult your hearing health provider to determine if you are a candidate for Cochlear technology. Outcomes and results may vary.

Cochlear Guest Writer
Cochlear Americas showcases the stories of real people celebrating life's real moments. This blog was written by a guest writer for Cochlear Americas.