Name: Elise Schiller
University: Trinity College, Dublin
Processor: Baha® 5 Connect, bilateral
Elise, an Anders Tjellström Scholarship winner, was born with branchio oculo facial syndrome, a rare condition that often results in hearing loss. She wore bilateral Baha® sound processors on a headband until she was implanted at age 8.
Elise said when her Baha processors were turned on for the first time, the change in her hearing was immediate.
“I noticed a difference right away. It was incredible, just incredible,” she said. “My parents said they noticed right away, as soon as I got the Bahas, an improvement in my speech. I could actually understand complete sentences and syllables.”
Being able to hear and understand others has helped her through her education, from elementary school all the way to Trinity College, Dublin, where she studies now.
“I am able to sit in huge lecture halls and hear my professors because of my Bahas,” Elise said. “Like, alone, I can hear them! And before my Bahas, I couldn’t even hear myself sometimes, so it’s a miracle to me.”
As a busy college student, the Baha 5 System’s Made for iPhone connectivity has helped her stay connected to the people who matter most.
“The Bluetooth® (connectivity) has really given me independence, where I can call my friends myself, and organize plans, and I can work out on my own in a gym setting,” she said. ““I feel like I’m part of the world, the hearing world, with my Baha processors.”
Elise said she chose to attend Trinity College, Dublin because she wanted to pick an environment that would challenge her.
“I want to basically prove to the world that I can rise up to challenges,” she said.
Moving to Ireland proved to be a journey of its own. While she said there was definitely an element of culture shock—such as the public transportation, accents, and slang words—she adjusted quickly.
“After my first semester, I was devastated when I had to leave to come back to the U.S. for Christmas, because I loved (Ireland) so much,” she said.
Elise is studying psychology and hopes to use her degree to help other people as a clinical psychologist.
“I really want to make it my goal to help other people, especially those with special needs, with hearing impairment, with visual impairment—people who have trouble making friends,” she said. “I want to hopefully be a clinical psychologist to help them with what I went through in my life.”
Elise said she is inspired by people “who have made a life for themselves when life was doing nothing for them.”
“So many people come from ordinary lives and then life gives them sour lemons and they reverse it,” she said. “And that just inspires me to do what I do, and to keep going.”
She said her biggest inspiration is her roommate, who was diagnosed with a rare genetic syndrome when she was 18 years old.
“She shows me every single day that you can keep going, you have to keep going, and you’ll get there,” Elise said. “Wherever you want to be, you’ll get there. There’s light at the end of the tunnel.”
Elise’s advice to other people with hearing loss is to “hold your head up high when life has you down.”
“Don’t be afraid of speaking up for yourself,” she said. “Go out into the world, achieve what you want to achieve, and do what you love. It will take you places you never knew you could reach.”
The Cochlear Anders Tjellström Scholarship is a unique award open to Baha® System recipients around the world. It honors academic achievement and a demonstrated commitment to the Cochlear ideals of leadership and humanity.