Oticon focus on people awards

2019 Focus on People Awards finalists

Student category

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Daniel Carey

Virginia Beach, VA

Would you like a little hearing health awareness with your order? Nineteen-year-old Daniel has worked his way up from dishwasher to front counter pizza chef, showing restaurant patrons and fellow employees just what a determined student with hearing loss can accomplish. Daniel wants people to know that he is wearing hearing aids – not ear buds – and that they make an important difference in his life.

The recent high school graduate begins studies in the Culinary program at the Art Institute of Virginia Beach in the fall, with his eye on a bigger prize — becoming a top chef graduate of prestigious Johnson & Wales University.

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Catherine Fitzgerald

Mansfield, MA

Eighteen-year-old Catherine combined her experience of profound hearing loss and passion for criminal justice in a volunteer initiative to make it easier for police in her hometown to help people with hearing loss. The determined high school senior developed and conducted American Sign Language (ASL) training sessions for Mansfield Police Department officers and civilian employees to help them bridge the communication gap with hearing impaired people in her community. Catherine also produced an ASL pocket guide for on the job use that has already been requested by other police departments. This fall, she enters Curry College to pursue a degree in criminal justice.

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Eryk Mejia

Marana, AZ

This Student of the Year is determined to live his life without limits and he wants to inspire young people with hearing loss and other challenges to do the same. As a counselor at a camp for individuals with special needs, Eryk is a role model for all, promoting emotional health, independence, self-esteem and confidence — qualities he exudes in all that he does.

With a 4.4 weighted grade point average, participation in varsity level sports, and volunteer projects to benefit charitable organizations such as the Community Food Bank, Eryk demonstrates his ability to accomplish and contribute. This fall, 18-year-old Eryk heads to Barrett, The Honors College at Arizona State University to begin studies in Psychology with an emphasis on Pre-Health.

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