- Please tell us your name.
- Are you Deaf? Hard of Hearing? Other?
Hard of Hearing
- What mode or modes of communication do you use?
- Please tell us about your experience in school. What schools did you attend for elementary school, high school and college? What did you like and dislike about those schools?
I went to elementary school in Menasha, followed by junior and high school in Neenah—both in Wisconsin. Perhaps you heard of Menasha and Neenah by listening to the song Neenah-Menasha by Sponge or maybe one day you were bored—stared at the ground—and noticed that the sewer cap said Neenah, WI on it. Yep, my hometown was home to Neenah Foundry, which produced sewer products that are used all over the world—including Disney World! I loved my school experience. I think that I had a pretty normal experience. I wasn’t popular but I wasn’t an outcast either. I had my close friends and I’m still friends with many of my high school friends to this day. After high school, I went to the University of Wisconsin, where I ended up with a masters in Audiology. This was followed, years later, by at PhD at the University of Washington. I loved my college years. I’ve often said that if I could find a way to make money as a student forever that I would do it in an instant. I think that getting the PhD was the closest thing to doing that.
- Please tell us about your work experiences. What is your current job? What other jobs have you held? What was your favorite job?
I had a variety of jobs in high school and college. I like to tell people that I was a sanitary engineer. Yep, I use to collect trash on a garbage truck. It was a great workout, I had a nice farmer tan and the people that I worked with were great. The job, as you can imagine, got boring at times. After graduating with my Masters in Audiology, I practiced as an Audiologist at Boys Town and at the VA in Madison. Now I get to do research and practice audiology at Boys Town. Job wise, I think that working at Boys Town has been my favorite. The people are great, the environment is intellectually simulating and I love it that I get to do both research and be in the clinic.
- Please tell us about your hobbies and interests.
I love to ski, run, bike, walk in the woods. If it’s outdoors I probably like it; especially if it’s with my family. I love golfing with my dad, though I haven’t been able to do that in much too long.
- Please tell us anything else you would like to share about yourself or your family. For example: Are other members of your family Deaf or Hard of Hearing? Are you married, do you have children?
My brother has almost the exact same congenital (at birth) hearing loss as myself—mild to moderate sensorineural. Unlike me, he doesn’t like to wear his hearing aids—which means we often have to talk loud to him. It’s ok, I still love him. I’m married and we have two wonderful children—the most recent of which was born this past Thanksgiving. My wife is a speech pathologist, but I don’t let her practice therapy on me—despite her best attempts. I think that my daughter might grow up to be a speech pathologist. She likes to correct my incorrect pronunciations (and she is only 4).
- What advice do you have for children who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing and their families?
Just remember that your kid can do anything. When my mom found out that I had hearing loss she thought that I would forever be held back by it. Instead, I managed to get my PhD, have a great family and love life. Other advice, remember to continue to do the important things like have fun, hang out with your family, etc. But at the same time, do as much as you can for your child. Whether that’s attending IEP meetings, SLP sessions or learning sign language, it doesn’t matter, just as long as you are trying your best.