Kymm Smith: Recipient of the BHA Pam O’Gorman Bursary 2024

Kymm Smith: Recipient of the BHA Pam O’Gorman Bursary 2024

Kymm Smith, recipient of the 2024 Pam O’Gorman Bursary is on a mission to transform her lived experiences of hearing loss into a beacon of hope and support for others navigating similar paths.

A Journey Rooted in Personal Experience

Kymm’s decision to pursue a career in audiology stems from her own experiences with hearing loss. Diagnosed in her mid-20s, she received her first cochlear implant at that time and her second one five years later.

“I understand personally the isolation that can occur alongside a hearing loss,” Kymm shared. “It can be extremely difficult and exhausting maintaining social connections.”

For Kymm, cochlear implants were life changing.

“Getting cochlear implants brought me back from a very dark depression,” she recalls.

This transformation allowed her to return to university and work as a registered mental health nurse. The implants not only improved her professional life but also enriched her personal experiences.

“The most fantastic thing was to be able to hear my baby daughter say her first words – a moment I would not have had without my implant,” Kymm reflected.

Bridging Personal and Professional Worlds

Kymm’s background in mental health nursing uniquely positions her to offer a person-centred approach in audiology.

“Audiology feels like a career in which I can use my nursing skills to really provide a person-centred experience for people who come into the clinic,” she explained.

Her lived experience allows her to empathise deeply with her clients, offering them not just clinical support but emotional and psychological understanding as well.

Advocacy and Education

Navigating academic life with a hearing loss has its challenges, but Kymm has learned to advocate for herself effectively.

“Advocating for yourself is a skill that can take time and doesn’t come easily,” she noted.

Whether it’s requesting captions for lectures or performing tests differently, Kymm emphasises the importance of being open about one’s needs.

“The more open you are about what you may need, the more people will be happy to help you,” she advises.

Balancing Acts and Future Aspirations

Juggling her studies, casual work, and raising three children, Kymm faces significant challenges, especially with concentration fatigue from long lectures.

However, her children’s understanding, and support make a world of difference.

“My children know that mum can’t always hear what they say, and they are good at waiting until they see I have my processors switched on before they talk. Sometimes they write me little notes which is pretty cute,” she shared.

Receiving the BHA Pam O’Gorman Bursary is a significant milestone for Kymm. It will allow her to upgrade her computer, facilitate travel for practical workshops at university, and ease the burden of juggling childcare and studying.

“I am so grateful to be the recipient,” Kymm expressed.

Inspiring Others

“Living and working with a hearing loss can be hard, but there is support out there. Don’t be afraid to make your needs known. Learn to be an advocate for yourself and take advantage of any support networks available.”

Kymm’s message to others living with hearing loss is clear. She highlights the power of peer support in reducing feelings of isolation and encourages connecting with support groups either locally or online.

Looking Ahead

Looking forward, Kymm hopes to see audiology continue to value person-centred care. She is eager to use her unique insights to impact the lives of her clients positively.

“The most rewarding part of my journey so far is really seeing how far I have come personally,” she said. “I’m most looking forward to seeing where my studies take me, and I hope to be able to inspire people to take control of their hearing health and achieve their personal and professional goals.”

Kymm Smith’s story is one of resilience, advocacy, and the transformative power of lived experience.

As she embarks on the next chapter of her career with the support of the BHA Pam O’Gorman Bursary, her journey serves as a powerful inspiration to all who face the challenges of hearing loss.

The Pam O’Gorman Bursary

The Bursary is named after Pam O’Gorman who dedicated more than 10 years to helping hearing-impaired people.

She received many accolades as a music teacher, but her hearing loss made it difficult to continue, so she turned to teaching hearing loss management.

She inspired all who attended her classes and showed that, when properly managed, hearing loss should never prevent people from achieving their goals.

Pam was also a board member of Better Hearing Australia Brisbane for six years and served as the coordinator of teachers.

She was much loved, and this bursary recognises her enormous contribution.

She would be delighted to know that this bursary has been named in her honour to help a student further their studies.

The bursary consists of a $2,000 cash grant to one recipient every year.

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