2015-16 Deaf and Hard of Hearing Scholarship Recipient
February 7, 2017
Her dream was to become an actress; to thrive and glow in the bright dazzling city of New York. But after experiencing difficulties with her hearing loss in the industry, she decided to pursue a new dream with a little help from Sertoma.
Douglas was born with normal hearing, but began to lose hers in her early 20’s. She was diagnosed with otosclerosis induced hearing loss, and despite two left ear surgeries and hearing aids, communication was still difficult… especially on stage.
“I tried to hide my hearing loss when I was acting,” Douglas said. “It became very difficult. I could not hear cues or even the director at times.”
Douglas added that although her hearing loss negatively affected her ability to be on stage, it positively allowed her to reinvent herself. While she was pursuing acting, Douglas began to volunteer at a therapeutic riding company that serviced children with disabilities. The experience quickly reignited her passion for helping others and horses.
“Working with the horses felt like home,” Douglas said. “Horses are not primarily vocal creatures so I don’t need to rely on hearing to work with them. We can understand one another through a variety of senses.”
In order to pursue her dream of working with horses, Douglas traded her life in the city for the countryside. She is now working on her Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Equine Rehabilitation and Health at Midway University, in Midway, Kentucky.
This new endeavor inevitably created a few financial challenges, but Douglas applied for Sertoma’s Deaf and Hard of Hearing scholarship, and was selected as a recipient in both 2014-15 and 2015-16.
“The cost of relocating, tuition, books and extracurricular activities has been hefty,” Douglas said. “The journey of hearing loss has been expensive enough on top of everything else. I was so thrilled and thankful to have this this opportunity.”
All of the scholarship money that she has received from Sertoma has helped fund her classes, therapy equipment and hands on training. Douglas said her favorite class thus far has been anatomy and physiology, but mentioned she is looking forward to pasture management and pharmacology next semester.
Douglas is excited to pursue this new path, and plans to graduate in May 2018. Ultimately, she would like to continue working with rescue horses and helping them in any way she can.
“I feel purposeful on my new track. I was always outgoing, but when I lost my hearing I became insecure and withdrawn,” Douglas concluded. “This scholarship has allowed me to pursue a new goal and find myself along the way.”