Cochlear implant recipient, Monica Lam, wins Graeme Clark Scholarship
Born and raised in Cherrybrook, Monica Lam has just received the prestigious Graeme Clark scholarship to pursue study in optometry. Having dealt with a major sensory impairment from birth with her own hearing loss, Monica is now passionate about helping others improve quality of life through sight.
After receiving her first implant in 2010, she is now awaiting to receive her second Cochlear implant in her right ear. The procedure has been postponed by the hold on elective surgery, but Monica hopes this will be made possible in 2022, and in the meantime this remarkable Cherrybrook local is not letting it stop her make change.
In terms of what change she’d like to see when it comes to hearing, Monica says people need to understand the difficulties of an “invisible disability”.
“It’s challenging to notice if someone has a hearing disability, and as a result, it’s a very isolating condition that people find hard to support. There needs to be greater awareness in the general public of how to spot a hearing disability and how to help those around you who live with it.”
“People often prefer to stay silent, wanting to avoid being seen as being difficult. This has been particularly noticeable as of late, with a shift to online communications,” she said.
Monica received her first two hearing aids in kindergarten after her teachers recognised she was having difficulty hearing. However as her hearing continued to deteriorate, at the age of 7, she was recommended a life-changing Cochlear implant in her left ear.
After undergoing rehabilitation and adjusting to life with her new implant, Monica was grateful for the efficiency of her Cochlear implant and newfound hearing capabilities, as well as, the guidance and support she received from her teacher, Miss Willows.
In early 2022, Monica received news that she won the Graeme Clarke Scholarship to assist with her optometry studies being encouraged to apply by her support teacher.
Monica is now a second year student at UNSW, undertaking studies towards a Bachelor of Vision Science and Master of Clinical Optometry. She is passionate about helping others and looks forward to graduating as a qualified optometrist so that she can help those with visual difficulties and impairments.
After winning the Graeme Clarke Scholarship, she would like to encourage people of all ages considering Cochlear implants to think of the ways that this life-changing technology can improve overall quality of life. “Life would be so much worse without it,” says Monica. “I’ve realised the importance of the world of sound”. She believes that the importance of having the choice to be able hear the world around us is powerful tool to help people “get more out of life” and enjoy things that many take for granted, such as music, movies, participating in noisy group environments, or even picking up on the sound of someone calling your name.
Although she is a little nervous whilst awaiting her second implant, Monica is excited to reap the benefits of enhancing her hearing, “you just don’t know what you’re missing out on!”.
For more information on Cochlear implants, call Cochlear on 1800 875 212 or visit www.hearclearly.com.au.