University: University of Missouri, Columbia
Major: Bachelor of Journalism, Strategic Communications (May 2016) and Master of Journalism, Strategic Communications (December 2017)
Desired Career: Advertising, Copywriter
Hobbies: Running, working out, reading, poetry, writing short stories
Favorite Things to Hear: Music—everything from bluegrass to rock n’ roll
Words of Wisdom: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” -Martin Luther King Jr.
Mary Jane lost her hearing to Pneumococcal Bacterial Meningitis when she was 3 years and 8 months old. She said that as her hearing loss progressed she became increasingly unhappy with the effectiveness of hearing aids. She received her Cochlear Implant in fifth grade and said it has allowed her to communicate and connect with the world.
“Before the Cochlear Implant, my world was relatively silent. I couldn’t detect the melody of wind rustling leaves or the hum of the air conditioning at school,” she said. “After the Cochlear Implant, my world is anything but silent. I talk on the phone. I constantly listen to music. I love to join debates in class and laugh amongst friends at restaurants. I studied abroad in London for five months, (and I was) able to interact with different cultures and accents. The Cochlear Implant helped me reach my full potential and gave me the capacity to connect to the hearing world in a powerful way.”
Her ability to communicate with others, as well as her love for the written word, led her to pursue a degree in journalism. She initially planned to go into investigative journalism, but said her love of telling stories caused her to shift her focus to strategic communications and advertising.
“I believe that the best advertisements weave together a powerful narrative that leaves us feeling connected, much how writing connected me to the world after my hearing loss,” Mary Jane said. “As someone who has struggled with communicating with the world, I can’t imagine a better job than helping brands communicate their story.”
She said she is inspired by her grandpa, who taught her the importance of hard work.
“He took risks, believed in himself and was never scared to get his hands dirty. The lessons that he’s taught me are at the core of who I am, and I hope to possess half the determination he does,” she said.
Mary Jane said she hopes to be known for her sense of adventure and open-mindedness.
“My goal is to visit as many countries and cities I can, and absorb those different cultures and sights. I also hope to write a historical fiction or non-fiction book about the history of one of the cities I visit,” she said.
“Before getting my implant, I was afraid of going to noisy parties or seeing movies without captions. But post-implant, I learned the importance of pushing myself and doing things that made me uncomfortable. I learned how to utilize the different noise settings on the implant by going to loud restaurants and got better at talking on the phone by using the T-Coil. The more time I spent doing things I was uncomfortable with, the better I got at coping in loud settings, lip-reading and speaking. So, I wish Cochlear recipients were told to take risks and try new things!”
To learn more or apply for a Cochlear scholarship, visit www.Cochlear.com/US/Scholarship.