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Building Character: Mercy’s Story

Mercy is planning to be a pediatrician so she can help other children. Here, she shares her story.

My name is Mercy Bourgeois. I am 16 and was born with moderate hearing loss in my right ear. Hearing and understanding the world around you is something that I have never been able to take for granted.

When I was 3, my mom noticed that my speech was not developing as quickly as my twin brothers.’ She took me to get my hearing checked, and after finding out I needed a hearing aid, she sprang into action. She ensured I received all the care and help I needed, including speech therapy and the best doctors available at Rady Children’s Hospital. I am so grateful for the strong relationships I created with the people I met through my hearing loss journey, especially  audiologist Karen Faillace and Dr. Daniela Carvalho. They have been giving me such excellent care. 

Hearing loss has also presented me with challenges that I call my “character builders”: incidents that have shaped me into the person I am today. Aside from getting my hearing aid chewed up by a dog or accidentally jumping in the pool with it on, the introduction of masks during COVID-19 gave me my most recent obstacle to overcome.

I have always used a combination of lip-reading and hearing to understand what was being said by my teachers at school, but masks made it impossible for me to see what anyone was saying. I missed many instructions from my teachers and coaches, and I felt isolated from my peers at times when I couldn’t hear their conversations. As a result, I forced myself to embrace discomfort and not be ashamed to ask for help. My efforts also raised awareness in my teachers as they adjusted their lessons to be more easily accessible.

If I had the choice to have perfect hearing or keep my hearing aid, I would 100% choose to keep it. Although hearing loss is often viewed as a setback, I have found a multitude of activities that I love. In addition to being an honor-roll student over the years, I enjoy running cross-country and track and am a captain of my team. I also play the viola and have had the privilege of going to multiple state honor orchestras to perform at the state music conferences besides performing regularly at the Mainly Mozart Youth Orchestra in San Diego.

With the great medical care at Rady Children’s and all the support I have received, I am proud to say I have been able to excel at many things that I love and enjoy. Hearing loss is a part of my identity and has taught me to appreciate the many gifts I have.

Published 2022