#KSProud: Deaf Derby native defies odds with audiology doctorate from KU

Derby native Casey Combs walked across the stage earlier this month, as she earned her Doctorate in Audiology. Casey is profoundly, or totally for a more practical term, deaf.

“I’ve always been a very driven person,” Casey admitted. “I know I have hearing loss. I know I am profoundly deaf, and I know that some people can use that against me. I kind of told myself, make sure you be the best that you are in whatever you do. Make sure that you work as hard as you can to be equal to, if not better than, your peers.”

Casey’s path to this moment is certainly one less traveled. In fact, it’s a path never travelled before at KU. She was told she is the first deaf graduate of the program in KU history.

“I think my education and my experience in the field definitely allows me the flexibility to be able to connect with my patients on a personal level,” Casey said.

A virus began to take Casey’s hearing when she was 3 years old, and by 4, she lost her hearing completely.

Cochlear implants give Casey the ability to hear now, a technology she hopes to utilize to help others with hearing disabilities.

“If a small part of me can help influence those patients’ lives, and help them realize that they can overcome it… then I know I’ve done my job.”

Casey just finished her residency in Kansas City and will move on to Tyler, Texas to begin work in an Audiology clinic there.