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Maria Maione

1075

Bold Points

1x

Finalist

Bio

I am a Deaf female who is passionate about engineering and electronics. I am an advocate for disability rights and Deaf rights. I work hard daily to meet my goals.

Education

Cedar Creek High School

High School
2020 - 2024
  • GPA:
    4

Miscellaneous

  • Desired degree level:

    Master's degree program

  • Majors of interest:

    • Electrical, Electronics, and Communications Engineering
  • Not planning to go to medical school
  • Career

    • Dream career field:

      Electronics Engineering

    • Dream career goals:

    • Student District Technician

      Upper Township School District
      2023 – 2023

    Public services

    • Volunteering

      Key Club — Member
      2020 – Present

    Future Interests

    Advocacy

    Volunteering

    Entrepreneurship

    Elevate Women in Technology Scholarship
    As a Deaf female, the piece of technology that inspires me on how technology can make the world a better place is a cochlear implant. When I was first implanted at age 3, my cochlear implant was bulky, heavy, and didn't offer the best access to sound. The battery was heavy and didn't last very long. Just a short year and a half later, when I was implanted a second time, the newer implant was smaller, lighter, and offered better sound acquisition. Several years later, a new and improved implant once again came out, offering even better sound quality and smaller. Once again, I'm awaiting my upgraded equipment. While I appreciate the silence of not wearing my cochlear implant and I love utilizing American Sign Language, I can't help but be inspired by the tireless efforts of the engineers and designers who work for Cochlear. These people strive to ensure that sound acquisition gets better and better. With my cochlear implants, I'm able to hear the voices of my parents, listen to music, and watch my favorite TV shows. I'm able to hear cars drive by, crowds cheering at the local high school football games and the rain falling. None of these simple sounds would be possible without the advancements of cochlear implant technology. This small device is the source of a baby hearing their parent for the first time, this small device gives me the ability to hear my teachers at school, hear my friends when the talk to me and feel slightly more included in the hearing world. Granted, I'd never change who I am and that's what I love about Cochlear. Cochlear doesn't say they are a "cure" for Deafness because Deaf people don't need to be cured, we are fine the way we are. Cochlear offers "accessibility" to Deaf people.
    Richard P. Mullen Memorial Scholarship
    I am a lifelong resident of New Jersey, born and raised in South Jersey. Even though I'm only 17, I understand the struggles and tribulations life can hand you. I am Deaf. I was born Deaf and am the oldest of 4 children. My parents have always worked hard to support myself, my 2 brothers and my sister. My family has always been my biggest supporter; they advocated for me before I had a voice and ensured that whatever school I attended, from the Marie Katzenbach School for the Deaf, Mullica Township School District (1 year only) Upper Township School District and finally my High School of Cedar Creek, that each educational setting had exactly what I needed to succeed. My parents pushed me to work hard, understand my value and place in this world and never let anyone tell me I can't because I'm Deaf. Through these simple advocacies and supports, my parents have shaped me into the young adult I am today. My dream is to attend a college to study electronic engineering. Why electronics you may ask? My dad and I always had a special connection. He is a police officer but loves computers and electronics. He has spent countless times working with me, helping me to develop a fascination and love of how things work. These interactions helped me to focus on a future in engineering. This scholarship would allow me to attend an engineering university without putting a large financial burden on my hard-working parents. Here's a little bit more about me. I started out as a shy, unconfident little girl. During my elementary and middle school years, I was placed in an out-of-district setting with a Deaf-education program. The school and teachers were great, but the kids treated me as an outsider for the majority of my school career. I struggled with being Deaf, I doubted myself, I hated the fact that I was Deaf and all of my peers were hearing. When the time came for high school, I was starting with a clean slate. My local high school district worked hard from day one to see that they had a program for me and gave me every opportunity to succeed. Rather than take that opportunity for granted, I embraced the opportunity. I've spent the last four years of high school earning all As, working with a 103 GPA, taking honors and AP classes, getting involved with KEY club, Robotics, Student Council, and starting an ASL (American Sign Language) Club in my school. No more did I feel embarrassed or ashamed of who I was, I embraced it. My biggest supporters, my parents, urged me to apply to something called the Disney Dreamers Academy, a program designed by Disney to bring 100 students from across the country together for the most wonderful learning experience. I applied and was selected to attend in March of 2023. I was one of 4 New Jersey students selected; the only South Jersey representative. Upon attending the Disney Dreamers Academy, I met the most wonderful, aspiring young minds in the country. I shared my passion of Deaf Culture, Disability Rights, and Deaf Advocacy with my classmates. I was selected the Dreamer of the Year by my peers, the most humbling experience of my life. All of these experiences taught me one thing; never doubt your true self, be proud of who you are, be the voice for others who can't speak up, and never give up.
    Diverse Abilities Scholarship
    My dream job would involve me being able to work with electronic circuits. I would want to use my understanding of electronic circuits to create tools that would offer more accessibility to students with needs. Students with disabilities use a variety of equipment; iPads, speech tablets, artificial limbs, hearing aids, and cochlear implants just to name a few. Personally, through my 17 years on this earth, I've witnessed the technological improvements from my original cochlear implant to the newest device. I have "heard" firsthand the improvement of sound quality just in the past few years and these advancements fascinate me. I've always prided myself on being a strong advocate for myself and other Deaf/HOH individuals through my interactions with state legislation to see the passage of bills in favor of the Deaf/HOH population (NJ Deaf Students Bill of Rights) and taking part in current legislation to have Cochlear Implants added to NJ Grace's Law language so that insurance companies in NJ cover Cochlear Implant upgrades for CI recipients. In respect to both of these pieces of legislation, I've testified on behalf of my Deaf community. Giving testimony gave me such a sense of accomplishment and fueled me to take that advocacy further. What if my dream job gave me the opportunity to work with Cochlear Americas and offer my insight as well as the insight of other CI recipients to make improvements to the current product? Qualities that would be important to me would be a sense of respect, open communication and transparency in my future job setting. These items would impact me to search for a career that not only acknowledges my intellect as a Deaf-female engineer, but also values my input, my experiences, my passion to create new and innovative products that could not only assist the Deaf/HOH community, but any student struggling with a disability. I've learned that having a disability doesn't take away my ability to accomplish anything, rather, having a disability pushes me to accomplish my goals, set new goals and keep working. I struggle with spoken English, I was implanted at 2 1/2 the first time and 4 the second ear. My broken speech doesn't match my intellect. Qualities in a career would be to respect me for my brain and intellect, my drive and passion to succeed; not to dismiss me because I don't sound like everyone else that applied. My biggest fear is future job prospects won't take me seriously, that's why I strive so hard in school to earn a 103 GPA in all Honors and AP classes. I push myself, I will push myself in my future job because if I'm working to create new advancements in technologies for students with disabilities, I'm going to give 110% daily to see that the younger generation of differently abled students can actualize their potential like I did!
    Joanne Pransky Celebration of Women in Robotics
    Opportunities for robotics in the near future are limitless. As a young, Deaf female who has dreamed of becoming an electronics engineer, I am constantly thinking of the communication barriers that I've faced in my young adult life. I see the future of robotics bridging the gap of communication between the hearing world and the Deaf world. Currently, the robots I have designed with my school robotics team over the past four years have done tasks such as picking up balls, stacking cups, hanging from racks, and maneuvering through a field of obstacles. Simplistic tasks when you think about it. Yet, creating the robot with my team has taught me that we are capable of designing machines that can make things easier, and more manageable. Take a minute to see the world through my eyes. A young Deaf female gets accepted into her dream college to study electrical engineering. The acceptance letter arrived in the mail and I couldn't be more excited! However, there is one issue, this school is nowhere near my comfort zone of home; my brother who is also Deaf, signs with me, my parents know me and know what I need and now I need to make this decision to travel far from my home. The distance and new setting aren't the uncertainty facing me; it's the concern of communicating with the "Non-Deaf" people in this new setting. Imagine, you want a cup of coffee, a slice of pizza or a book from the university bookstore, you just walk in, ask for your needs, listen to the responses of the person attending to your needs, and move about your day. Me, not so easy. Try asking "What?" several times or "Please repeat" because your cochlear implants missed three-quarters of what was said or someone asked you, "I'm sorry, I don't understand what you're asking for?" The frustration of lack of communication is real. This is where my dream for robotics in the future comes to light. We can program robots to diffuse bombs and travel along planet surfaces; why can't we program a robot with languages, including American Sign Language, to bridge the communication gap? I'm not suggesting that a robot be used as an educational interpreter. The value of an educational interpreter is unbelievably important, facial expression and ASL interaction with another human being are two things that can't be matched with a robot, yet in non-educational settings, leisure, and social settings, robots that can instantaneously translate dialogue into a person's native language or interpreter spoken words to ASL would be a game changer in the hearing and Deaf worlds. Through robotics coding, we could program languages. Thinking of Alexa, Siri, and other technologies, if a person spoke and their words were translated, we would have a lot less confusion and a better understanding of what people need. There would be challenges; programming a specific dialogue, for example, proper Italian versus Calabrese dialect, or having a program for American Sign Language but lack of facial expression would be problematic. These are challenges that could be improved over time. If this existed, my university experience would be less intimidating knowing that I could interact in any setting with the non-Deaf population and not feel inferior or out of the loop. We may be a long way away from this type of robotics, but it is a dream I have to better communicate as a Deaf person in a hearing world.
    New Kids Can Scholarship
    I've been "the new Deaf kid" several times in my life. During my early childhood, I attended a Deaf school. I moved to a hearing school in 3rd grade. I was behind all of the kids in my class. My teacher actually told my parents she wanted to hold me back. My parents got me a tutor and I worked hard to catch up. By the end of my 5th grade year, all of my hard work paid off as I was ahead of my classmates. This first lesson taught me that you can't let a disability hold you back, use your resources and you can be just as good as your non-disabled peers. During my time in middle school with my peers, I learned a lot about understanding self-value and self-worth. I wasn't part of the popular crowd; despite my entering that school in 3rd grade, I was still seen as an outsider, a new kid, that Deaf girl, even after 5 years with the same kids. When high school time approached, all of my classmates were moving on. I didn't go to their high school; there wasn't a program for Deaf students. Not only was I a freshman in a different high school, but it was COVID and once again I was the new Deaf kid. However, this time it was different. I refused to allow myself to feel inferior to others. I was confident and I set goals from day one. My goals were to earn good grades, become involved, and meet friends who accepted me for me. My goal is to become an electronics engineer. I enrolled in the Engineering Program at my high school and took math courses over the summers to ensure that I could take AP Calculus and Honors Linear Algebra my senior year. I wanted to prove to everyone that just because I may be Deaf doesn't make me less able to work hard. My current high school helped me to actualize my goals and see them happen. In addition to being a Distinguished Varsity Scholar, I had the confidence to start an ASL (American Sign Language) club as well as being a member of KEY club, Student Council, Robotics, and Pirate TV, our schools' media broadcast. Struggles in my middle school career with kids leaving me out, ignoring me, and being unkind didn't break me down, it made me stronger. It also made me realize the value of treating all people with respect, regardless of who they are. I am now the voice for kids who are bullied in school, I speak out against injustice and advocate for disability rights. Having other kids treat me poorly in middle school taught me to be bold and stand up for others. Being the new kid several times taught me to trust myself, accept myself, be myself and everything else falls into place.