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Cochlear Americas Announces 2009 Graeme Clark Scholarship Winners

Cochlear Americas Provides Support for Cochlear Implant Recipients to Pursue Higher Education

Denver - March 30, 2009 - Cochlear Americas, the world's leader in advanced hearing technologies, today announced the winners of the 2009 Graeme Clark Scholarship awards. Since 2002, the Graeme Clark Cochlear Scholarship Foundation has recognized the remarkable achievements of individuals who have received a Nucleus® cochlear implant - a small electronic device that can provide a sense of hearing to someone who has severe to profound hearing loss. This year, five outstanding students have been selected to receive a total of $40,000 in financial assistance toward an accredited university.

"Cochlear Americas is dedicated to empowering our Nucleus recipients with an opportunity to pursue higher goals and achieve their greatest dreams," said Chris Smith, President, Cochlear Americas. "We are proud to provide assistance to such intelligent and engaged young adults who demonstrate superior academic achievement, leadership and community involvement."

The five scholarship winners are:

  • Emily Fustos (Allison Park, PA), a freshman at Pennsylvania State University, was born profoundly deaf and received her Nucleus cochlear implant at age 2. Emily excelled as a dancer for 13 years, and dedicated herself to participating in multiple activities and organizations including her leadership positions as a Varsity Cheerleading Captain and President of the Latin Club. Her experience regaining her hearing with the assistance of a cochlear implant has inspired her to become a doctor. Emily is enrolled in the Schreyer Honors College where she is considering using her unique perspective of both the deaf and hearing worlds to specialize in Speech Pathology and Communication Disorders.
  • Alison Marinelli (South Windsor, CT), a freshman at Assumption College, was diagnosed with profound hearing loss at the age of 9 months. In Alison's words, she was "given the gift of sound" when she received a cochlear implant at age 4, and again when she received a cochlear implant in her other ear at age 15. Alison exemplifies a strong commitment to school, passion for learning, and leadership in extracurricular activities. She is pursuing a degree in Speech and Language Pathology, with the ultimate goal of attaining both her masters and doctorate degrees in order to better assist others in developing skills in hearing and oral communication.
  • Heather Page (Fairfield, OH), a sophomore at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington (UNCW), was diagnosed with severe to profound hearing loss at age 3 and received her Nucleus cochlear implant when she was 16. Heather is a talented musician winning honors throughout high school playing the clarinet at various solos and ensemble contests. She is passionate about the sea and volunteers as an advocate for marine life. Heather is successfully working towards a degree in Marine Biology and Environmental Studies within the nationally recognized marine biology program at UNCW, and pursuing her passion for music as first chair of the clarinet section in the UNCW Wind Symphony.
  • Grayson Swaim (Camby, IN), a freshman at Wabash College, became deaf from bacterial meningitis when he was 10 months old and received a Nucleus cochlear implant at age 5. From being Captain of the Swim Team to earning many service leadership roles, Grayson believes his cochlear implant helped him to achieve his goals of graduating from high school with honors and getting accepted into a four-year university. Grayson hopes to pursue a career in law and make a difference in people's lives by creating more opportunities for those in need.
  • Tyler Wagner (Ackley, IA), a sophomore at University of Northern Iowa, lost his hearing after a tragic trampoline accident in 1998. Shortly after the accident, he received a Nucleus cochlear implant at age 9. From that moment, Tyler says he "never took his cochlear implant for granted". In addition to Tyler's rigorous academic pursuits and outstanding character, he excelled in athletics, placing sixth in the Iowa State Wrestling Tournament his senior year. He was also involved theater, community service and National Honor Society. Tyler is currently pursuing a degree in exercise science and looks forward to having a positive impact on others.

The winners were honored at an award ceremony held March 29 as part of Cochlear Americas' Celebration 2009. This inspirational four-day event offers educational sessions and a variety of activities designed to unite the Cochlear community of recipients, volunteers and their families to share experiences and successes. Celebration is the largest gathering of cochlear implant recipients in the world, bringing together more than 600 recipients and their families.

For 2009, Cochlear Americas received 80 scholarship applications from students in 27 states across the U.S. and five provinces in Canada. Eligible students must have a Nucleus cochlear implant and must be entering their first year of college or enrolled in an accredited university. Selection criteria include academic performance, letters of recommendation, awards and activities, and a short personal essay describing academic inspiration and other interests. Past winners of the scholarship have gone on to achieve great success, including graduating college with honors, playing collegiate-level sports and pursuing graduate degrees in medicine and law. 

About Cochlear Americas

Cochlear Americas is the world's leader in advanced hearing technologies. Since launching the first multichannel cochlear implant system more than 25 years ago, Cochlear Limited and its U.S. headquarters have brought the miracle of sound to more than 150,000 hearing-impaired individuals across the globe. Cochlear Americas' state-of-the-art cochlear implant technology, based on extensive research and development at preeminent academic institutions, provides the ability to hear sound and better understand speech, enhancing both learning capabilities and quality of life for those with severe-to-profound hearing loss. Cochlear Americas also markets an implantable bone-anchored hearing device for treatment of conductive and mixed hearing loss, as well as single-sided deafness. For more information about Cochlear Americas' products, call the Cochlear Hotline at   800/458-4999   (Voice) or   800/483-3123   (TTY) or visit www.cochlearamericas.com.


About the Graeme Clark Cochlear Scholarship Foundation

The Graeme Clark Cochlear Scholarship Foundation was established in 2002 in honor of Professor Graeme Clark, Department of Otolaryngology at the University of Melbourne, for his lifelong commitment to finding a solution for the hearing impaired and his pioneering work in the field of cochlear implant technology. Awarded by Cochlear Americas, this scholarship consists of financial assistance towards a college degree at an accredited university. The award is paid in yearly installments upon the completion of each year of study. Each award is in the amount of $2,000 per year for up to a total of four years. For more information about the Graeme Clark Cochlear Scholarship Foundation, call   800/458-4999   (Voice) or   800/483-3123   (TTY), or visit http://www.cochlearamericas.com


About Cochlear Implants

A cochlear implant is an electronic device that is surgically implanted and works by directly stimulating functioning auditory nerve fibers in the inner ear. Unlike hearing aids, cochlear implants do not amplify sound, but instead are designed to mirror natural hearing. Cochlear implants convert sound waves to electrical impulses and transmit them to the inner ear, providing people with severe-to-profound hearing loss the ability to identify sounds in their environment and often to understand speech without reading lips. The cochlear implant is recognized as a standard treatment for profound deafness by the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery.

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