Young Adult Spotlight: Monique Les

“It’s more about what you do with what you have than it is about what you don’t have.”

I remember reading Seven Habits of Highly Effective People when I was in my teenage years and trying to figure out what the heck I was going to do with my life after school. It dawned on me that I could do… anything I felt like doing! I attended mainstream school from Grade 1 all the way to 12, and never felt like the oddball out (partly because I never let it get to me). I was almost always the only person at my school with a hearing loss, and the majority of my friends are hearing. It didn’t stop me from playing varsity volleyball, pursuing competitive swimming, and taking up clogging. Yes, I was the only Asian girl in clogging – while everyone else was Irish! Dancing in Riverdance style still remains an awesome memory.

Technology has been my best friend. From birth to the age of 17, I wore hearing aids before I received my Cochlear Implant in my right ear. For nearly 14 years, I only wore my CI and have recently started wearing a hearing aid in my left ear. It’s amazing how elastic our brains are to be wired with sound! I received Auditory Verbal Therapy for 18 years – and was even proud to introduce my itinerant teacher to all my classmates. Hearing loss is an education for oneself, and as well as for others.

I graduated with a Master’s Degree in Environmental Criminology from Simon Fraser University in 2011, while completing a co-op job in Ottawa for Citizenship and Immigration Canada as a policy advisor; and working as a research assistant for the Institute for Canadian Urban Research Studies. Shortly after graduation, I worked for the Ministry of Justice as a Research Analyst. In each of my jobs, I advocated for myself – particularly when it was challenging to follow conversations, or when a telephone conversation was needed. An example: I requested that teleconference meetings (multi-stakeholder meetings) have clear view of all speakers so I could follow what was being said. Everyone has been incredibly accommodating, and it all boils down to having a good, positive attitude about it.

Currently, I am a wife to my wonderful husband Curtis and a stay at home mom to two beautiful girls, Rachel and Sarah. Life is full, and I can’t wait to see what happens in the next 30 years.