Hope Heard

Defying Deafness on the Road to a Doctorate

With the buzz of anticipation all around her, Kathrine Craig, PhD(c) ’24 stepped onto Eastern’s campus to begin her PhD in Organizational Leadership in 2017. She was excited for her first residency, but quickly became distracted by a sense of overwhelming ambient noise interference in her lectures that created challenges for her learning.

Kathy had always known she had some auditory deficit, yet being confronted with the profundity of her deafness in residency was a surprise that took the joy out of learning. The inability to hear was quickly becoming an insurmountable hurdle; however, Kathy was determined to search for options. 

After multiple attempts to modify instructional content proved unsuccessful, Kathy reached out to several disability service providers, where she ultimately discovered her need for additional academic accommodations and the possibility of qualifying for cochlear implants. This discovery would transform her life forever.

In a 2017 email correspondence with a fellow cohort member, Kathy wrote, “I’ve just been approved for accommodations – in fact, this procedure set off a chain reaction with the possibility of qualifying for cochlear implants...They believe that they can restore 80% of my hearing – I am very excited at this prospect!”

Through God’s grace, Kathy qualified for cochlear implants which helped restore 95%-100% of her hearing. This life-altering intervention has influenced the way she lives and leads. Hope now cascades out of discussions with Kathy. Her experience of engaging the unknown is a prime example of how faith in uncanny moments yields unforeseen possibilities.

Kathy, now a Ph.D candidate, sits laughing over a Zoom call reflecting on how the events since that first residency have helped shape her call in life. Now an entrepreneur steeped in a plethora of opportunities, she is visibly excited by the growth of her collaborative business and mentorship model that elevates local vendors by highlighting their handmade craft. She also enthusiastically shares about her role as adjunct professor at Judson University emphasizing critical thinking and praxis. What was once an insurmountable hurdle has become her victory cry.

Kathy's vulnerability amidst the rigor of higher education is a reminder that hope, imagination, and self-advocacy are important factors in deeper, life-long learning. Her determination plants the seeds of an inclusive future where all persons are given the opportunities to not only multiply their capabilities and supports, but influence the world for the better.

This article was originally featured in the Spring 2022 Edition of Eastern Magazine. View the full magazine here.