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Jeremy’s Story

February 2nd, 2008 by | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments »

Jeremy, a high school student in his senior year, just sent me a lovely e-mail to post on my website about his journey growing up with his CI and his trying to bridge between the two communities. He and I have been corresponding for the past few months and sharing our experiences growing up with our CIs. Here’s Jeremy’s story:

When I saw your name along with other 2007 Graeme Clark scholarship winners, I realized that I’m not the only one with the cochlear implant. For so many years, I thought I’m alone. I never meet a CI person with similar background.

Last year, after reading stories about the winners, I did some thinking on whenever or not if I want to have another cochlear implant. So in March 2007, my Deaf best friend asked me to go with him for the Deaf convention in Richmond, VA. I never thought that I would find a booth with a Cochlear logo. I did and I actually spend most of the day talking with the volunteers. I did not hang out with other booths.

I really respect people’s choice to be Deaf and there’s nothing wrong with that. I was raised oral by my family and sign language by my few Deaf peers. A lot of people said that I’m lucky enough to bridge between worlds, such as hearing world and deaf world or Deaf world with sign language and deaf world with oralism. I feel like I’m a hero struggling to find his identity and his place in the world. It has been 200 years since creations of ASL and Oralism and endless debate on whenever deaf children should be taught to sign or speak

My best friend wants me to be on his side of the world. I told him that I like to speak for myself and listen to people and music. I told him that it was my choice to have a cochlear implant. I made my first decision as a six year-old boy to have a cochlear implant. I know you might find it hard to believe, but I actually asked my ENT doctor if “I can have one (cochlear implant).” My mother was really impressed and supported my naïve choice.

Few months after March 2007, I did a lot of thinking and I finally decided to have another cochlear implant. Most of the time, I’m independent from using sign language interpreters. My cochlear implant really helps a lot. My family does not use sign language. I want to be part of the world. I want to help connect world of sound and world of silence. It does not mean that I will refrain from using the sign language. I’ve been using sign language for my Deaf peers. I talk for myself in classroom and office settings with hearing people.

Like you, Rachel, I’ve accomplished a lot in my life. Since fifth grade, I have been in mainstream classes. I was student of the month almost every year since second grade to my freshman year! I was elected the president of the freshman class. In my sophomore year, I participated in my school’s first all-guy pageant and got the title of Mr. Creative.(I performed with my lightsabers in the dark auditorium for the talent section.) I received a citizenship award for self-control. In summer 2006, I went to China as a student ambassador. I am currently attending Mathematics and Science Academy, which is my high school’s advanced studies program. I have attended this program since I started high school. In June 2008, I will graduate with an advanced diploma.

I will admit this. There was a time that I want to refrain from using cochlear implant. I was wrong. I realized that being a single cochlear implant user helped me a lot. The Deaf community wanted me to be in their world. I understand them, but it is not my best interest. They don’t make the choice for me. I make choices. So when people found out that I plan to have other cochlear implant, people expressed support while other does not support my choice.

I’m a teen correspondent for the local newspaper. I just wrote a movie review article (http://hamptonroads.com/2008/01/run-runaway-cloverfield). Currently, I’m also teen producer for the upcoming new local TV show for teens. I made a lot of videos and entertained a lot of people. Here is my youtube account (http://www.youtube.com/no1jeremy). I even made a kung fu film with my hearing friend!

Currently, I’m waiting to hear from the University of Notre Dame. I just applied few months ago. Here is my essay for Notre Dame.

Fifteen years ago, I was diagnosed with progressive hearing loss in both ears. My mother was devastated. She cried for months. Knowing that I have such a serious health problem is my mother’s worst nightmare. All she thought about is my life. She knew that my life will not be normal. Somehow, she thought that my hearing defect was her fault. So one night, she had a conversation with her mother, who lived in Canada. My grandmother heard my mother crying over the phone, so she asked her, “Why are you crying? You have a special child.” Indeed, I am special – and different from any of my friends. I have and still am facing many challenges most of which I have overcome. Some of theses challenges were negative however, most of them are positive.


No child should ever go through what I have experienced in my life. There were people who would not accept the fact that I am like them, regardless of my hearing. I was abused as a child by my first grade teacher, who thought that hurting me would help me to understand. I was the first deaf student in her class. My abuse is not the only trial that I have had to face. I saw the bigotry for the first time from my little league baseball teammates, who had a hard time accepting that I used hearing aids. They looked at me as if something was wrong with me. In middle school, I was teased for being different and smart.

On the bright side, I was able to survive and I moved on. I had my first cochlear implant surgery, when I was seven years old. Since fifth grade, I have been in mainstream classes. I was elected the president of the freshman class. In my sophomore year, I participated in my school’s first all-guy pageant and won the title of Mr. Creative. I received a citizenship award for self-control. In summer 2006, I went to China as a student ambassador. I am currently attending Mathematics and Science Academy, which is my high school’s advanced studies program. I have attended this program since I started high school. In June 2008, I will graduate with an advanced diploma. Recently, I just had my second cochlear implant surgery, which took place on November 27. Thanks to my father’s career in the US Navy, the military was helpful in covering the expenses for my surgeries. Thanks to my mother’s love, she was always there when I needed her. Fifteen years ago, I was doomed to live with deafness. Fate may have taken my hearing ability and a normal life, but it didn’t take away my family, my intelligence, and my desire to learn. Through the fifteen years, my mother was right about me not living a normal life… I am living an extraordinary life!

My journey is not far from over. It is still the beginning. Someday, I would like to meet you and other people with cochlear implants.

Recently, I just went to ENT clinic for another mapping/training. As I was waiting in the ENT clinic, my surgeon saw me, had a brief conversation with me, and left. A woman came up to me with happy look on her face. She was really happy to see a guy with cochlear implants having a normal conversation with the doctor. Her son was recently had a bilateral cochlear implant surgery. She was impressed that I listened and talked. This is not my first time encountering parent of CI kid. I’ve met parents with CI children. They had a lot of questions for me. All of them have same reaction: the happy faces with positive feedback. They now know that their children will be successful like me. People said that I bring joy to everyone. I’ve realized that I’m a good role model for the children with cochlear implants. It was truly priceless to see people happy.

5 Comments

February 3, 2008 at 3:18 am

Rachel – thanks for continuing to provide the voices of the kids, it gives me new perspectives that can only help in raising Jordan. Tell Jeremy thanks for sharing his story…you are a powerhouse! Jodi

Another Mum

February 3, 2008 at 6:08 am

Rachel

thanks for sharing Jeremy’s story. I appreciate his honesty in sharing the tough times as well as the good times that he has experienced.

Karen Mayes

February 3, 2008 at 9:31 am

That is nice to read Jeremy’s testimony and I see that he was fully aware that he was the bridge between deaf world and hearing world and he seems to have made the decision to be comfortable with it… kudos for him.

Kellynette Gomez

February 5, 2008 at 8:26 pm

Thank you for sharing Jeremy’s story.It nice to read about someone who has the almost the same experiences as me.

Darth Vader of the Deaf community

February 6, 2008 at 8:06 pm

You freakin’ rock, brother!