Lending an Ear

Posted by Paula Paine on November 5, 2013 in "Academic Programs", Alumni, "Kansas City", "School of Business", "Your OU" Rosemary Hart corosemary hart36uld never be accused of “coasting” into her senior years. In fact, she was not satisfied with simply earning her bachelor’s degree from Ottawa University in her 70s, so she just completed her MA in Human Resources from the Kansas City campus in May. “Rosemary has the energy of a 16 year old and possesses an incredibly active mind and sharp wit,” says Associate Professor of Human Resources Dr. Tom Edwards.

Since earning her second degree, she is dedicated more than ever to assisting those who, like her, suffer from hearing loss. No one understands better than Rosemary the challenges faced by the inability to function fully in a highly audible world. She has dealt with the effects of Meniere’s disease for 24 years and finally received a Cochlear implant in 2004 (her hearing loss and life journey were chronicled in an Ottawa Spirit article in 2010 upon the completion of her BA. Click here to read.).

“There are three big myths of hearing loss believed by those who hear well,” says Rosemary. “First, people believe that if you get a hearing aid, you will get your hearing back. Second, they mistakenly think that if they shout loud enough, the hearing impaired will hear them. And finally, they assume that the person is simply tuning them out. There is a lot of misinformation out there surrounding hearing loss and the options available to help, which is why there are more hearing aids in dresser drawers than in ears,” she says.

Rosemary desires to intervene with those facing hearing impairment BEFORE they go through the process of loss. One way she does that is through her work with Little Sisters of the Poor in Kansas City, which houses seniors in varying stages of care. There she works with the social worker and staff on hearing issues and offers classes to residents and family members.

Going forward, she would like to take those efforts out into the general community by working with churches, area agencies on aging, senior centers, and nursing homes to establish a process for getting the elderly properly tested, training families with hearing impaired members, procuring hearing equipment, and serving as an advocate and facilitator for the hearing impaired. Rosemary doesn’t want anyone to live trapped in a silent world if they don’t have to, but statistics show that hearing loss is becoming a problem earlier and earlier due to the use of iPods and other devices. In addition, while 93 percent of women seek help for a hearing loss, only 50 percent of men reach out, making her cause all the more critical.

Rosemary remains connected to Ottawa University in both heart and body, paying visits to the Kansas City campus and having lunch with staff and faculty members. You may also be hearing from her at this year’s Kansas City commencement ceremony, as she’s slated to give the address! “I didn’t think I would be as excited about the master’s as I was,” says Rosemary. “Life is incredibly full and interesting!”