Cochlear scholarship winner set to make her mark

2018 Graeme Clark Scholarship was awarded to Zoe Dunn2018 Graeme Clark Scholarship was awarded to Zoe Dunn

In honour of the inventor and pioneer of the modern-day cochlear implant, Professor Graeme Clark, Cochlear awards financial assistance towards a university degree to a high-achieving cochlear implant recipient each year. Awarded on the basis of academic achievement and commitment to humanity and leadership values, the Graeme Clark Scholarship has helped young people to realise their dreams in fields as diverse as mathematics, fashion, law, sports and healthcare. 

This year, the scholarship was awarded to Zoe Dunn, an inspiring young woman who received cochlear implants through RIDBC in 2002 and 2010. Zoe, who was born profoundly deaf and with Cerebral Palsy, graduated high school in 2018, achieving an impressive Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank (ATAR) of 95.75.  

Zoe says that her cochlear implants have had an immeasurable impact, providing access to sound and language that has helped her throughout her life, particularly when it comes to learning and her academic achievements.

Science is Zoe's chosen field of study, and it's clear she has a passion for it. With her determination and drive, there's no holding her back. She's determined to make her mark and contribute to scientific research – and we have no doubt she'll achieve it.   

Here, RIDBC talks to Zoe about her career aspirations and her advice to other young people with hearing loss. 


What are your career aspirations? 

I want to get involved with scientific research and use it to help others. I'm currently studying a combined degree at the University of Sydney; a Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Advanced Studies, majoring in physics and biology. 

What first sparked your passion for science? 

As a child, I was always inquisitive; always asking questions about the world and our place in it. I always loved learning and naturally gravitated to science, however, I would say attending the Veronica James' Science Challenge for Hearing Impaired Children at The University of Sydney made me realise I could have a future in it. Sadly, the yearly program ended in 2015, but I attended from the age of seven and loved every second of it!

You met the inimitable scientist, Karl Kruszelnicki (Dr Karl), in 2017. How did that come about? 

Dr Karl came to my high school to give a talk on the importance of science for our future. I really enjoyed the presentation he gave and, afterwards I had the opportunity to meet him. It was a great experience; he was really genuine and encouraged me to continue with science.

How will the Graeme Clark Scholarship assist you to achieve your career goals? 

The financial assistance will help me on my first steps to becoming a scientific researcher. But more than that, Professor Graeme Clark is a huge inspiration to me in my scientific endeavours and so it is an honour to receive this scholarship. 

What advice would you give to other young people with hearing loss when it comes to following their dreams? 

You can't let adversity hold you back; I recognised that certain things were always going to be harder for me, but I did my best and I asked for support when I needed it. I have a passion and determination to achieve my dreams, and I think that's really helped. 



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