Who are you and what are you doing now?
My name is Zofia. I recently graduated from Sheffield Hallam University with a First-Class Honors BSc in Food Marketing Management. After University, I worked as Commercial and Supply Chain Administrator for a food retail supplier of fruit and vegetables to the Big Four, Aldi and M&S. In July I will be starting an exciting new job as National Account Executive for Hovis. I will be working with data, finding and providing evidence to help grow the brand and drive up the M&S market share in a very competitive marketplace.
Tell us about your family and how they have supported you
I have two sisters; I am in the middle. My parents have always supported me from when I was diagnosed at two and a half years old. They have all always believed in me and encouraged me to feel that I can do anything. My parents always made sure that I went to the right schools especially ensuring that I had enough support. Also, they encouraged my traveling and exploring of the world. I was working in a retail environment at 17 years old during the holidays and gaining work experience in food production.
What’s your deafness level and what support did you need?
I am profoundly deaf, and I wear two digital hearing aids. At school, I had a manual note-taker who took notes for me during classes and I had a teacher for deaf listening and speech therapy once a week. During university I had an Electronic note-taker and English Language support once a week. This made me feel very included, as I understood everything in every lecture.
How have you found childhood and being at school?
School was not easy, but I enjoyed learning new things. In year 9, I found it hard fitting into my new school after spending three years in a deaf school. I put my head down and worked every hour during the week and weekends to prepare for my GCSEs. The school I was at was an extremely supportive environment; they believed in me and felt that I would do well. Overall, I got very good results to continue to do my A levels and then on to University.
What deaf awareness and lack of awareness have you found?
Deaf awareness is to promote the positive aspects of hearing impairment and understand the importance of social inclusion. This makes people with hearing impairment feel included in social situations and in a work environment.
Lack of awareness which I come across daily, are people forgetting that I need to be able to lip-read to understand, and many people show a lack of patience when I ask them to repeat again. You find your true friends are those who speak clearly and are willing to repeat for you.
What support did you receive?
The support I received during mainstreamed school was a manual note taker and speech language support. During university, I had an electronic note-taker and English language support. My tutors and lectures always supported me when I asked for help.
From a young age I was heavily involved with DELTA, which included charity bike rides and weekend activities. DELTA meet ups helped my parents by allowing them to have a support network of other parents and lectures providing important information, it was a steep learning curve for them as well.
How are you finding your deafness in your everyday life today and what measures do you take to give you the life you want to live?
When I was younger, I found everyday life at school hard with my deafness – making new friends and continually lip-reading 24/7. It wore me out and it still does now. I have grown up and got over the most challenging hurdles I have faced in my life.
Once you get a job you love, you will fly. I have learnt to be more patient with myself when I am learning in a work and social environment. I am very determined to succeed, which always helps, and I have a passion for food. I love baking as a hobby and working with data at work. This led me to where I want to be and what I wanted to do in my life.
Being confident and believing in yourself are the key tools to help you to get where you want to be. Never be afraid to ask for support! There are no limitations in life, aim high when choosing what you want to do – it’s rarely a smooth ride, but you will get there.