Daniel – From Participant to Mentor
Hear For You helped me to foster a positive attitude and view of myself as a young hard-of-hearing person during high school and beyond.
My time at Hear For You as a participant in 2009, when I was a Year 11 student, was a profound and formative cornerstone in my development as a teenager and into young adulthood. My experience in high school as one of the only hard-of-hearing student was a fairly miserable and challenging few years. I threw myself into academia and chose to shun social interactions to a large degree due to a sense of shame and self-denial about being hard-of-hearing, and due also to my misplaced belief that I was a ‘freak’ and unworthy of attention.
However, this period in my life was eventually overcome in no small part by the influence of the Hear For You program and the time I spent with my fellow participants and the older mentors. Hear For You provided me with the first real opportunity to hang out and interact with other people who were just like me and enabled me to see clearly that having a hearing loss is not a barrier towards a happy and full social life.
My involvement in Hear For You’s first program helped me to realise that I shouldn’t ever allow my hearing loss to negatively affect my decisions, and this provided me with the impetus to nominate myself as a candidate for my high school’s Year 12 leadership positions, which were to be selected by the student body through popular vote. I was elected as a Captain’s Prefects – a role which saw me involved in acting as a voice for the students and enabling the student body as a whole to have an influence in school decisions. This leadership role provided me with further public speaking experience and was a gratifying conclusion to my high school years.
Following the completion of high school I received an unexpectedly high ATAR score, an achievement which enabled me to pursue a Graphic Design bachelor’s degree at UTS. My four years at UTS, including my honours year, was a period of self-discovery, and the self- confidence and self-esteem which I had lacked in high school increased considerably. My fond memories of Hear For You continued to influence my determination to always strive to achieve my goals and dreams.
Graduating from university with honours was a surreal milestone to reach! Following the conclusion of my studies, life post-degree has been a period of adjustment, including the realities of looking for work. Finding a full-time job has proved to be challenging and time consuming, however I have enjoyed doing internships and paid freelance design work in the interim.
I contacted Hear For You regarding the possibility of volunteering as a mentor because I wanted to give something back to the program that I fondly remembered. My time as a mentor has had me forging new connections with other mentors and participants alike. It has also given me the opportunity to share my experiences and successful communication strategies with the mentees and this has been a richly rewarding experience.
While life has been full of challenges, this has made it all the more vibrant and meaningful. My experiences at Hear For You as both a mentee and mentor have prepared me well for the future and I can’t wait to see what exciting challenges are still to come my way!