"Your son, Michael, will never be able to hear, speak or do the things a normal hearing person would do," my parents were told. I was diagnosed as being profoundly deaf at the age of 15 months. My world seemed as if it had come to a narrow passage with very limited opportunities. However, it was the beginning of something unforeseen and beyond normal. All future dreams and visions seemed shattered, but they were actually expanding to a whole new dimension a normal-hearing person would never experience.
Implanted at UT Southwestern by Peter Roland, M.D., I was the first child to receive the cochlear implant in Dallas at the age of 2 in 1991. Since then I have thrived in the mainstream world. I contribute most of my cochlear implantation success to the intensive Auditory Verbal Therapy I had with therapists at UTD Callier and with Linda Daniels before and after receiving my cochlear implant. I underwent therapy until I was in the fourth grade. Another contributing factor was my family's unending involvement to boost my communication skills; therapy sessions extended into my home and daily life. While therapy was at times exhausting and grueling, I am so glad that my parents enrolled me into it.
I have been in mainstream schools with all normal hearing students since the first grade and have been tremendously successful. I feel like I have been immensely blessed to have a cochlear implant that can help me hear, speak and communicate with others. With this blessing, I feel a duty to participate in mainstream society and endeavor to be the best I can be in as many possible opportunities. I attended the International Business Academy, a highly sophisticated high school program for ambitious students while taking dual credit courses at Brookhaven Community College. I graduated high school as one of the top 10 students of my class and with honors. I went on to Southern Methodist University in Dallas, to pursue a Bachelor's of Business Administration in Marketing. I graduated from SMU in a total of three years with my BBA in Marketing and with honors in 2010.
Upon graduating SMU, I worked for Cochlear Americas for seven years. It was a surreal experience to work for the company that enabled me to achieve all the things that I have accomplished over the years. While working full-time at Cochlear, I obtained my Masters of Business Administration (MBA) at the University of Colorado. Currently, I am a Senior Market Strategist at Medtronic. I feel immensely privileged to "pay it forward" in the medical device industry as the medical device marvel – the cochlear implant – positively impacted me in ways beyond imagination.
My favorite things in the world are travel, music, cars and coffee. I love to travel around the world and enjoy learning about new cultures – communication (even in foreign speaking countries) never slowed me down. I feel very blessed to have the gift of music; I cannot go a day without wirelessly streaming music from my iPhone directly into my cochlear implant sound processor.
I never let my deafness handicap my abilities; I continue to move forward. I owe my success to my loving family, my great doctor, outstanding speech therapists and audiologists, and cochlear implant manufacturers like Cochlear.
The UT Pediatric Cochlear Implant Program at Children’s Health brings together experts from UTD Callier, Children's Health and UT Southwestern to provide the best in cochlear implantation for children. Learn more about our programs and services.