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Talented teenager inspired by her surgeon to pursue a medical career

Saskia, who was diagnosed with profound hearing loss at birth, was inspired by her cochlear implant surgeon at four-years-old to be a doctor when she grows up.
Saskia wearing a blue dress and black cardigan smiling with her hands crossed in front of a bookcase
  • Hearing

’We came out of her appointment with [renowned cochlear implant surgeon] Professor Bill Gibson, and Saskia said, “I want to be like Prof,”’ recalls her mum, Sandra.

Fifteen years later, Saskia is hoping to make her dream a reality—she is in her second year of a Bachelor of Health Science degree at The Australian National University (ANU) and has started applying for a coveted spot in post graduate medicine. She hopes to become an ear, nose, and throat surgeon one day.

Saskia’s interest in the medical field was sparked by the positive early experiences she had with her doctors and therapists, who helped her gain and maintain her hearing skills.

Growing up, Saskia was a strong and confident athlete—excelling at football, athletics, AFL, touch football, basketball, netball, and swimming. Throughout her schooling, Saskia reached national and state representative level in these sports.

Despite being a bright young woman, Saskia did not have the same level of confidence in her abilities in the classroom as she did on the field. But this confidence would only grow as she continued her schooling.

Saskia’s cochlear implants, and the help of her itinerant teacher, enabled her to engage and participate in her local school’s classes. When she reached high school, Saskia received an extra layer of support from the NextSense School Support Services.

From Years 7 to 12, she received support from NextSense teacher, Suzette Denman, on a weekly basis, to ensure she had improved access to the school curriculum.

‘Suzette really helped Saskia with her writing and comprehension and ensured she had the support she needed for assessments and exams,’ Sandra says.

Her confidence in her academic ability was boosted when she received an award for academic excellence in year 10.

‘Saskia started building greater self-belief, realising that despite the challenges she encountered academically, she could be competitive in her studies too,’ says Sandra.

By Year 11, Saskia’s goals were clear. Embracing her love of helping others and her experience with hearing loss, Saskia hopes to become an ear, nose, and throat surgeon so she could perform cochlear implant surgeries one day.

Saskia excelled in her Higher School Certificate (HSC) studies, achieving an impressive ATAR of 98.9. She was also awarded a State Rank in PDHPE and achieved All Rounder status—over 90% in all 10 units. Saskia was also awarded the Clearasound Prize and the Garfield and Norma Barwick Medal from NextSense for her outstanding performance in the HSC.

As she continues her academic journey, Saskia says she is incredibly grateful to her school teachers, NextSense, her doctors, audiologists, speech pathologists, and her family who helped her achieve her HSC results and goals so far.

‘I hope my story can empower others with hearing loss to believe that they can achieve their dreams and know that they can ask for support. Most importantly, I want to encourage others to give everything a go and remember to have fun along the way,’ Saskia concludes.

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