Scholarships for Deaf / Heard of Hearing Students

America is often described as the land of opportunity, where no matter the circumstances of one’s birth, we are able to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and achieve the American dream of success and sustained happiness. However, there is an undeniable footnote to this optimistic outlook: many people in the United States are born with inherent societal disadvantages, whether they be economic, social, or physical. Sometimes, we as a community need to step up and lend a helping hand to those who do not have the advantages we do.

According to the National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), about 0.3% of all children born in the United States suffer some level of hearing loss that will impair their daily life. While the degrees of this infliction vary, there is an unmistakable disadvantage that those who are deaf deal with, compared to those of us who are not. As this fraction of children become students and, later, head off to college, they may feel that their disadvantage will not be remedied. However, there are many deaf and hard of hearing scholarships available to help these students achieve their dreams, including:

A student sitting behind a pile of books.

Sertoma Hard of Hearing Scholarship

Deadline: March 30, 2020

Amount: $1,000

Sertoma is a syllabic acronym for Service To Mankind, a well-established philanthropic foundation that aims to help hard of hearing students accomplish their goals. The foundation is over one hundred years old, founded by three Kansas City community leaders in 1912. To this day, Sertoma makes its headquarters in KC, on a four-acre farm that houses both their administrative center and meeting areas. One of the ways the organization helps the hard of hearing is through its most famous program, the eponymous Sertoma Hard of Hearing Scholarship.

Beginning in 1994, the scholarship program claims to be the biggest provider of scholarships to deaf students and is open to any hard of hearing American student who plans to pursue a four-year degree at an accredited university. Specifically, students who apply must have measured hearing loss of forty decibels or more in both ears and maintain a 3.2 GPA. Students must include both of these quantifiable statistics in the application.

Help America Hear Scholarship

Deadline: April 26, 2020

Amount: $1,000

Help America Hear offers this $1,000 scholarship, along with two state-of-the-art hearing aids to an either deaf or hard of hearing high school senior. Along with a completed application, students must also submit a written essay, a copy of their hearing instruments evaluation, their college acceptance letter if available, two letters of recommendation, and a photo. Applicants under the age of 18 need their parents to sign a photo release and a HIPAA form.

Dean Ritter Foundation Scholarship

Deadline: March 23, 2020

Amount: Varies

The Dean Ritter Foundation sponsors the Dean Ritter Foundation Scholarship, which offers between $1,000 to $8,000 to deaf or hard of hearing high school seniors in Illinois. High school seniors must also demonstrate financial need and good academic standing.

Interested students must complete the application, submit two letters of recommendation, a short essay, as well as provide their family’s financial information.

Graeme Clark Scholarship

Deadline: March 31

Amount: $2,000

For the deaf community, a point of pride has always been their adversity and willingness to overcome their hearing loss to lead fruitful lives. One of the many ways deafness is overcome, especially in a literal sense, is through the use of cochlear implants. These technologically advanced devices form a sort of “bionic ear” which amplifies sound in the ear canal and stimulates the cochlear nerve. Getting these implants is a personal choice and is a matter of some disagreement among the deaf community.

Those with cochlear implants are often happy with their choice, and in order to both spread the word about cochlear implants and honor one of the many people who made the operation possible, the medical community sponsors the Graeme Clark scholarship. Dr. Clark is an Australian professor who created the first Nucleus cochlear implant in the late 1970s. In his honor, Nucleus Cochlear provides scholarships to graduating high school deaf or hard of hearing students who have an implant and have maintained at least a 2.5 GPA. They must be planning to attend an accredited university, and if they are chosen, they will receive an annual financial boost of $2,000 at the beginning of each school year, totaling at a whopping $8,000.

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