Flipping Burgers? Oh, No, Sir! I came to the United States from the Dominican Republic several months after my seventh birthday. A few months later, I contracted bacterial meningitis, which left me deaf. The deafness was severe, and I became a candidate for cochlear implant surgery on my right ear, which was followed by speech-language ... E-luminations
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E-luminations  |   January 01, 2012
Flipping Burgers? Oh, No, Sir!
Author Notes
  • Mariella Paulino, is a senior at New York University in New York City. Contact her at mmp344@gmail.com.
    Mariella Paulino, is a senior at New York University in New York City. Contact her at mmp344@gmail.com.×
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosodic Disorders / Hearing & Speech Perception / Hearing Disorders / Hearing Aids, Cochlear Implants & Assistive Technology / Audiologic / Aural Rehabilitation / Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / School-Based Settings / Professional Issues & Training / Regulatory, Legislative & Advocacy / E-luminations
E-luminations   |   January 01, 2012
Flipping Burgers? Oh, No, Sir!
The ASHA Leader, January 2012, Vol. 17, 32. doi:10.1044/leader.EL.17012012.32
The ASHA Leader, January 2012, Vol. 17, 32. doi:10.1044/leader.EL.17012012.32
I came to the United States from the Dominican Republic several months after my seventh birthday. A few months later, I contracted bacterial meningitis, which left me deaf. The deafness was severe, and I became a candidate for cochlear implant surgery on my right ear, which was followed by speech-language and hearing services at the Center for Hearing and Communication (CHC) in New York. At the center, I first received audiologic rehabilitation and speech-language treatment in Spanish and then learned English as a second language.
Mariella Paulino in Washington, D.C.
From losing my hearing at age 7 to the time I graduated from eighth grade, my inability to deal appropriately with the realization that I was never again going to be “normal” manifested in my academic and social interactions. A specific incident sums up that part of my childhood. During my elementary school graduation, the teacher wearing the microphone from my FM unit did not realize that it was turned on. After she had addressed the audience, she engaged in a conversation with another teacher about me. The other teacher asked her, “What do you expect to happen to Mariella in the future?” She replied, “Mariella, I bet she will end up flipping burgers.”
Had it not been for organizations like the CHC, the dedication of my speech-language pathologists through the years, and the never-ending support of my family, it is likely that these words would ring true today. CHC provided and continues to provide me with audiologic rehabilitation and speech-language treatment, helping me to achieve a level of communication that would otherwise have been impossible. The high demands of the hearing professionals who have worked extensively with me have encouraged me to set a higher standard for myself, not only in my speech but also in my life.
Their efforts allowed me to transform myself from the lowest-ranking student in my elementary school to one of my high school’s most recognized honor scholars with acceptance to New York University on a full scholarship. This spring, with one more semester to go before graduation, I completed one of my highest professional achievements by being accepted to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, one of the nation’s leading and most competitive internship programs, which allowed me to gain 12 weeks of hands-on experience developing, implementing, and influencing public policy in the nation’s capital.
Within a year after graduation, I will apply to law school. Yet, looking at all I have achieved, I cannot help but be thankful for the “flipping burgers” comment, as it made me realize that life is not what happens to you but how you react to it. For now I will wait patiently to do something truly big so I can return to my elementary school with pride. Even more so, I cannot wait for the day I can give back to my family, the community, and the extended family of hearing and speech professionals to whom I owe all of my success. I hope they are as proud of me as I am of myself.
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E-luminations, a new column for 2012, features first-person client perspectives. Encourage your clients—current or past—to send stories and photos to leader@asha.org.

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FROM THIS ISSUE
January 2012
Volume 17, Issue 1