Q. You are a busy senior at Horizon Honors High School! What are you involved in this year, inside and outside of school?
A. I am a mentor for Advanced Bionics (the company that makes my Cochlear Implant), a Youth Ambassador for the American Diabetes Association, and a member of the Phonak Teen Advisory Board. I have also been involved as a volunteer in a variety of Horizon Honors Elementary school clubs, I am a representative for our choir council and our schools Secretary of National Honor Society.
Q. Tell us about the Phonak Teen Advisory Board
A. The Phonak Teen Advisory Board is a first time ever board created by one of the hearing aid manufacturers, Phonak. It is a board composed of eight teens, four from the US and four from Canada, each with a different degree of hearing loss. The members of this board will be sharing their hearing stories by topic, attend regular trainings on topics and technology, and provide feedback on Phonak’s technology. The Teen Advisory Board will also help to find new ways which are best for manufacturers and researchers to communicate with the deaf and hard of hearing teen population. This is the first year that Phonak has put together a Teen Advisory Board, much like anything else that is done for the first year, the board will build up towards something bigger. I am very excited for this opportunity because it gives me the chance to be a part of something bigger. I can continue helping those in the hearing loss community and now I can also help these individuals to be heard in what it is they experience with their technology, and in their lives as a deaf/hard of hearing individuals.
Q. Why is it important to you to be a leader in the hearing loss community?
A. It’s important for me to be a leader in the hearing loss community for a couple of reasons. The biggest reason being because it’s a part of who I am. I am not a hearing person though I am a part of the hearing world. Though I wasn’t raised to be a part of the Deaf Culture, it is important to me that I be involved in the hearing loss community. Being deaf is a part of my history; my personal culture. Being a deaf individual in the hearing world isn’t always the easiest thing, so I make it a priority to be involved in my own history. And to me, that means volunteering in this environment. Over the years I’ve discovered how helpful it can be for parents of deaf and hard of hearing children to talk to someone who uses the same devices that their young child may be using (or may potentially use in the future). The parents get to see that their child can do anything in their life, they aren’t limited, and the parents can ask whatever questions they may need answered and get the firsthand perspective of a Cochlear Implant/Phonak CROS user. Once I realized this, it was all the more important to me that I stay involved and be as involved as I possibly could be in this community.
Q. What are your plans for the future?
A. I am planning on staying in-state for college and going to school to be a nurse. I was inspired by a nurse nine years ago when I was in the hospital diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. And to this day, I still want to be a nurse and help others in the way that Nurse Katie helped me! My ultimate goal – my dream job is to work for Advanced Bionics and make it my career to continue helping others in this capacity. Whether I am a nurse or someone who works for Advanced Bionics, I’d be doing what I love, and that is helping others!
Emily Cartwright is a senior at Horizon Honors High School.