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Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing: Phenomenal Professionals (Dr. Scott Smith, MD, MPH)

10 minutes

[MUSIC PLAYING]

NARRATOR: Scott Smith's profound deafness was diagnosed when he was 12 months old. Initially, his hearing parents were shocked. Two months after his diagnosis, Scott's mother introduced him to a small group of deaf people active in their church community. These early role models exposed Scott to sign language and deaf culture, and gave him the confidence that he could and would grow up to be successful. Scott was the only deaf student in his public high school, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He was valedictorian of his senior class of almost 500 students. He received a full scholarship to attend East Carolina University, and continued his studies there to receive a doctor of medicine degree. Later, he graduated from Harvard University, with a master's in public health. Scott's love for science and people has landed him a position in the world acclaimed Children's Hospital Boston, where he's a practicing pediatrician. INTERPRETER 1: Ride my bicycle. So you like to ride a bicycle? At my friend's house. I like to ride really fast at my friend's house. How far is your friend's house?

Really pretty far. Can you say the names of your friends? You know the names of your friends. Your friends at school.

INTERPRETER 2: I try to raise expectations for deaf children. Deaf children should be able to do just the same things that a normal hearing child does. Often many people in the field tend to have lower expectations, and they say, well, the child has a problem because he's deaf, and they kind of blame the deafness and use that as a reason for their child's problems. And often that's not really true. It's because of the environment or what's happened to the child within their environment that contributes to whatever difficulties they're having. INTERPRETER 1: Which is your best friend?

Yah!

[LAUGHING]

INTERPRETER 1: Hi. How are you doing?

Fine how are you? INTERPRETER 1: Good. Doing good, thanks. He's here for a general evaluation. Does he sleep through the night? He doesn't wake up? What do you think about when you see a child that's very-- that demands a lot of attention? INTERPRETER 2: I have a profound hearing loss in both ears, and that was at the age of around 12 months. Then at the age of 14 months, my parents tried to figure out what they should be doing with me. They didn't know. They were shocked by my deafness, and my parents wanted to know what to do with a deaf child. My mom was always saying her primary goal was just to be able to communicate with me. She wanted to be able to communicate with me.

So my mom went to different doctors and speech pathologists and asked their advice. And it just so happened that at church they had a small group of deaf adults who had an interpreter with them. When my mother saw this, she decided to go up to the group and introduce herself and explain her situation, that she had had a son and recently found out he was deaf. And asked, what should we do?

My mother asked the deaf adults what she should do. My mom asked advice from them, and became good friends with two of the deaf adults who were a married couple within the church. I consider them to be my godparents.

My mom has pictures of me when I was, I think, three years old, dressed up in a doctor's outfit. So I guess you could say that probably it was something that started maybe that early.

But because of the time that I grew up, it was not something that I obsessed about because it was not something that was likely to be a possibility for me.

But I knew that I wanted to do something big. I wanted to do something big with my life just because my parents had given me that chance. But exactly what that was, I didn't know, until I went to college. I became more interested in working with helping people.

I really wasn't aware of some of the things that I was doing until I got into the situation, things that you take for granted when you're not used to communicating regularly with someone who's deaf. For example, I might walk down the hall and start saying something, and then I'd realize, no I need to stop and turn around so that he knows I'm communicating with him and make sure that his interpreter's available to sign what I'm saying.

One of the concerns I had before Dr. Smith came to work with us was I had no idea how he would examine a patient's heart and lungs, which every physician I know does by listening through a stethoscope.

[PROCESSIONAL MUSIC PLAYING]

WOMAN: Dr. Scott Smith.

[APPLAUSE]

NARRATOR: So people ask me. What's my secret? How did I do it? I can think of four major concepts that I would like you to think about today, especially you, the graduating seniors, and keep these in mind in the future.

The first one is expectations, high expectations. The second one is perseverance.

Never giving up. The third one empowerment. The fourth balance.

INTERPRETER 1: Many deaf young people have a difficult time with language for a variety of reasons. Like they didn't happen to catch their deafness until later in life, or their parents didn't know how to promote proper language development skills for their children. But still, I believe that, even though they're young, teenagers can still work hard to improve their language skills.

And for me, the key was to take time to read and practice reading. Read as much as you can, because when I was young, when I was a teenager, I realized, even though I'm pretty good in English, I still realize that because I couldn't hear I was not exposed to a variety of words that were used regularly in the world.

You live in a hearing world. You need to be able to be assertive and go up to people and meet them, because they will never come to you. Most people are just too afraid to meet a deaf person.

And if you want to be able to do things with your life, then you really need to be able to be successful in networking and meeting people. I still struggle with that, even today. I still think, as I said, interpersonal skills really are key. And that's true for any doctor, but mostly so for deaf people too, because as deaf people, we have to sell ourselves, and we have to make hearing people believe that we are capable and we can do the job and we can communicate. And that really takes a good personality.

I would like to consider myself as a caring person and a person with a good personality, who most people, when they meet me, feel as though, hey, that's really a nice person.

A person, who, I believe, is capable of doing a lot of different things, regardless of whether he's deaf or not.

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Dr. Scott Smith was diagnosed with profound deafness as an infant. He excelled in school and received a full scholarship to attend East Carolina University. Dr. Smith's love of science and people helped him land a job at the Children's Hospital in Boston where he is a practicing pediatrician. This is a short segment from the "Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing: Phenomenal Professionals."

Media Details

Runtime: 10 minutes

Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Episode 1
36 minutes
Grade Level: 10 - 12
Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Episode 2
7 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Episode 3
9 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Episode 4
10 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Episode 5
7 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Episode 6
27 minutes
Grade Level: 10 - 12
Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Episode 7
32 minutes
Grade Level: 10 - 12
Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Episode 8
8 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Episode 9
7 minutes
Grade Level: 9 - 12
Achieving Goals! Career Stories of Individuals Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Episode 10
9 minutes
Grade Level: 9 - 12