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Exploring Hearing Loss in Her Homeland

This story was originally written by Clarke Schools for Hearing and Speech, a grantee partner of JSF. It is shared here with permission.

Sofia, a Clarke Alum with Hearing Loss, Advances a Global Research Project

Sofia, an alumna of Clarke Schools, smiles for the camera. She has dark brown curly hair and is wearing a dark blue sweatshirt while holding a bouquet of orange-red flowers.Meet Sofia, who is currently pursuing a Liberal Arts Degree at Smith College. Sofia was born with hearing loss in Guatemala and adopted by her current family in the United States. Years ago, she attended Clarke Schools for Hearing and Speech’s Preschool Program in Philadelphia to learn to listen and talk. Since its founding in 1867, Clarke’s teachers of the deaf, speech-language pathologists and audiologists have taught thousands of children who are deaf or hard of hearing the listening, learning and spoken language skills to succeed in mainstream schools and the wider world.

Children served by Clarke use advanced technologies, including cochlear implants and hearing aids, to maximize their access to sound. Following her graduation from Clarke in 2010, Sofia excelled in elementary and high school.

Entering her senior year of high school, Sofia was tasked with researching a global issue and interviewing experts in the field relative to the issue. Sofia decided to research the global effects of hearing loss, focusing on her birth country, Guatemala, and interviewed Judy Sexton, MS, CED LSLS Cert AVEd, Clarke’s head of programs and schools and interim president.

To further enrich the conversation, Judy connected Sofia with Paige Stringer, founder and executive director of the Global Foundation for Children with Hearing Loss.

“I asked questions about Paige’s work, how our country’s healthcare differs from other countries, along with how mainstreaming children with hearing loss can be hard on both the children and parents,” explains Sofia.

Through her international research, Sofia discovered there is only one professionally trained audiologist in Guatemala, Dr. Paty Castellanos.

Judy and Paige also connected Sofia with Paty to deepen her research and overall learning experience.

After Sofia’s insightful conversation with Paty, discussing the need for more Guatemala-native hearing loss professionals, Sofia discovered her passion for interviewing and researching within the international relations field and beyond. She says, “I hope to dedicate my time researching global challenges, how the world is changing environmentally and how to find ways to save our environment.”

Sofia is a recipient of Clarke’s Caroline A. Yale Memorial Fund Scholarship, designed to support the continuing education of Clarke students. Sofia intends to use the funds to fuel her academic ventures.