I was born profoundly deaf due to auditory neuropathy and did not hear a single sound until I received a cochlear implant when I was 4 ½ years old. My parents said that I was always a happy, sweet child and I was born with a smile on my face and a twinkle in my eye. Throughout my life, I’ve had to deal with many obstacles due to my deafness that most people don’t have to deal with. However, my cochlear implant, this miracle of sound, gives me an appreciation of sound and richness to life that others may take for granted. Through it all, I’ve held onto my belief that you shouldn’t just live life, but love it!
Many people have told me that I have limitations, but I’ve always taken those statements as challenges. I am currently attending the University of Denver, which is a gorgeous university only an hour away from the mountains. My cochlear implant has also allowed me to be a role model in my community. As a Peer Educator with HYPE, I travel throughout the campus and talk to students about issues that are prevalent at their age, such as body image, STI’s, contraception, alcohol awareness and values and decision-making. I’m also holding a chair position in Delta Zeta, which is a sorority on campus, and our philanthropy is the House Ear Foundation for the hearing and speech impaired.
I also wrote a curriculum on bullying; and with the help of others, taught the class locally and throughout Minnesota. In 2012, I was awarded the Service to Mankind Award from the Sertoma 1200 Club in Rochester, Minnesota. I was also addtionally later awarded the Service to Mankind Award at the District level. This is the highest recognition given by Sertoma to non-Sertomans. In 2013, I was blessed enough to be the recipient of the prestigious Cochlear Graeme Clark Scholarship Award. I am additionally going to be an intern in Denver for Cochlear America during the summer, which is an opportunity I am very excited to have!
Some people, upon hearing that I was born deaf, feel badly for me. I have no qualms in saying that if I wasn't deaf, I would not be the person I am today. I am stronger and more confident than I would ever be if I had been born hearing. I believe that a person’s true character can be seen in how they respond to adversity. I will continue to rise to any challenges I face in the future. I have never let my disability define me and I try to set an example that there are no limitations to what I can achieve. I’m proud to be a Cochlear recipient.
The Mayo Clinic is the reason my family lived in Rochester and the reason I am where I am today. Throughout my countless years of appointments in a multitude of different departments I have become the woman I am today. No matter where you go in Mayo, you will find nothing but genuine compassion and long lasting bonds. Mayo Clinic has been an invaluable resource for my family and I.
Written by: Lexi Grafe