Name: Tania Karas
University: University of Oxford
Major: International Human Rights Law
Processor: Nucleus 6, bilateral
Meet Tania, one of the 2018 Graeme Clark Scholarship winners!
Tania was first diagnosed with hearing loss when she was five years old. She received hearing aids in kindergarten but avoided wearing them because she didn’t want to stand out from her classmates.
She said she began to wear hearing aids in high school and they helped, but once she began her undergraduate degree in journalism at Northwestern University, she realized they weren’t sufficient.
“My freshman year was super difficult,” Tania said. “I didn’t really know anybody, and I didn’t have those natural support networks (like high school). It became really challenging. That’s when I decided to get my first cochlear implant.”
She was implanted on the left side in 2008, right before the start of her sophomore year of college.
Initially, Tania said her first cochlear implant made everything sound very foreign and mechanical, which made it difficult for her to pay attention.
“I was so focused on adjusting, on learning how to hear with it, that I wasn’t listening,” she said. “I would miss entire classes and lose track of conversations. I was hearing all these new background sounds and people’s voices sounded different, so it was really hard for me to keep track.”
She said it took about a year for her to begin liking her cochlear implant, and about two years before she loved it. She was implanted on her right side in 2011 and said the transition was significantly easier the second time.
“Once I had both implants, that’s when I felt I was hearing probably better than I’d ever heard in my entire life,” Tania said. “I felt like I was reaching my full hearing potential.”
Tania said her cochlear implants are especially vital to her role as a journalist.
“Being a journalist, your success depends on your ability to communicate effectively,” she said. “All day long I’m on the phone, interviewing people. I have to do it accurately… having clear sound is so important to my career.”
After graduating from Northwestern, Tania moved to New York and spent several years covering human rights and immigration. In 2014 she moved to Istanbul, Turkey, to become a freelance reporter covering international affairs. In 2015, Tania was awarded a U.S. Fulbright Fellowship and moved to Greece to cover Europe’s refugee crisis.
Her work has appeared in Reuters, Mashable, Public Radio International, Foreign Affairs magazine, World Policy Journal, The Wall Street Journal, Refugees Deeply, IRIN humanitarian news, Women In The World/The New York Times, The Nation, and elsewhere.
Now, Tania is working as a freelance journalist and pursuing a master’s degree in International Human Rights Law at the University of Oxford.
She said her cochlear implants have allowed her to pursue stories with confidence.
“I love getting to know people and their stories,” she said. “Having cochlear implants really helps me to do that, because you have to be able to communicate, get to know people, and draw their story out of them.”
Tania’s advice for other cochlear implant recipients is to realize that often our biggest limitations are in our own heads.
“If there’s something you’re dreaming about, something you really want to do but you’re scared and you think being deaf or hard of hearing is holding you back, don’t let that be the thing that holds you back,” she said. “There’s almost always going to be a way around it, and if you think creatively you can overcome any obstacle.”
The Cochlear Graeme Clark Scholarship is a unique award open to Nucleus® Cochlear Implant recipients. It honors academic achievement and a demonstrated commitment to the Cochlear ideals of leadership and humanity.