Maria has recently graduated with Bachelor of Design and a Bachelor of Business, majoring in marketing and visual communication design.
"I have many goals this year and aim to find a role that fits my skillset in both disciplines. In the meantime I am taking time to focus on doing things I love... I am most excited about embracing the unknown, enjoying the freedom and enhancing my skills by allowing myself to try new experiences," said Maria.
Born with profound hearing loss in both ears, Maria wears two cochlear implants.
“I received my first cochlear implant at 13 months old, and my second when I was 11. Without being able to hear, my social life, study and work opportunities would be limited,” said Maria.
Maria said she was “beyond grateful” for the many opportunities her hearing technology had opened up.
“Being able to hear, listen and speak means my job opportunities aren’t limited, and I feel connected to the world. It is hard to imagine a different life,” said Maria.
“I can even stream music to both my ears, and if my phone rings, it will switch to my implants and I can have an easy, clear conversation regardless of the noise around me,” she said.
By chance, Maria’s parents first discovered Hear and Say at a barbecue – somewhat symbolically surrounded by the chatter and chaotic noise of children running around and having fun.
Maria went on to do years of specialised speech therapy at Hear and Say, and participated in peer group and life skills workshops.
“The early intervention provided by Hear and Say audiologists and speech therapists was extremely crucial in my development,” said Maria.
“Hear and Say knows how to engage with young children and create a positive learning environment. At a young age I remember playing games and actively enjoying my speech therapy and cochlear implant programming sessions. It excited me, I looked forward to them,” she said.
Reflecting on ability to hear and speak, Maria shares insights into her childhood and expresses gratitude for the support that was available.
“As a kid, I went to a local school and was involved in a variety of activities. I took dance classes, learnt the flute, violin and played school sports,” said Maria.
“At school I had a support plan which ensured that my classes were appropriate for my hearing needs. At university I have the option to use captions and note-takers where necessary,” she said.
In light of her own experience, Maria shares her advice to families who have just found that their child has hearing loss.
“Intervene early and you will maximise their life opportunities. Learning to listen and speak is a journey that is rewarding and has unlimited benefits for your child’s future” Maria said.
“Even as a baby before I could understand speech and language, my parents constantly read books to me and engaged me in their conversations. Be consistent, patient and never give up.”