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A Moment of Serendipity

If you think you’ve ever been stressed out by a job application, consider Nick Stone. Nick, who’s hard of hearing, faced a dilemma when filling out applications that few people realize exists, and even fewer understand.

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Written By: Cam Ellis

If you think you’ve ever been stressed out by a job application, consider Nick Stone. Nick, who’s hard of hearing, faced a dilemma when filling out applications that few people realize exists, and even fewer understand.

“One of the most challenging things to navigate as someone who is hard of hearing is whether or not to disclose that you are deaf or hard of hearing in your job applications or your interviews,” Nick said. “On the one hand, disclosing your hearing loss can help you receive needed accommodations during the interview process, and can even help you stand out as a candidate with a unique life experience.

“On the other hand, unless a potential employer overtly discriminates against you, it can be very difficult to prove discrimination in the hiring process if you are not hired for a position. If an employer tells you that you are simply not a good fit or that they are looking for a candidate with different experience or qualifications, you may never know whether or not your hearing loss was a negative factor in a decision not to hire you.”

That added stress is why Nick, who always chooses to disclose his hearing loss in interviews, speaks with such reverence about the George H. Nofer Scholarship, an annual award given to graduate school students in law and public policy with “pre-lingual bilateral hearing loss in the moderately-severe to profound range.” For Nick specifically, receiving the scholarship eased his monetary concerns about applying to his dream program: Boston University School of Law, which he chose particularly for its health law program. Nick was accepted and graduated with an honors distinction in health law concentration.

“During my time at BU Law, I took several courses in health law and served as a Notes Editor for the American Journal of Law and Medicine, a world-renowned publication in the field of health law.”

His degree from BU opened doors to opportunities to work in law firms all across the country, and after a summer spent working as an associate, Nick was offered a full-time position as an attorney with the Lane Powell law firm. Practicing out of Portland, Oregon, his primary focus is currently on senior living litigation. His work with Lane Powell, however, allows him to get his feet wet in many different types of law, including health and disability litigation; it’s his true passion, and why he decided to attend law school in the first place. That, and – as he puts it – one specific “moment of serendipity.”

“The admissions counselor told me that Alexander Graham Bell actually used to be a professor at Boston University,” Nick said. “And invented the telephone while a professor at BU, made possible because of the university’s encouragement.” Fortified by that meeting, Nick applied and was awarded the scholarship money, paving the way for his continued ascent.

“I have always taken that moment as a sign that the stars were aligning,” he added. “And that I have set out on the right path.”

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Una casualidad

Si cree que alguna vez se ha sentido estresado por una solicitud de empleo, piense en Nick Stone. Nick, que tiene hipoacusia, se enfrentó a un dilema al rellenar solicitudes que pocas personas conocen que existen y todavía hay menos que las comprendan.

«Uno de los mayores retos a los que se enfrenta una persona con hipoacusia es si revelar o no que tiene sordera o hipoacusia en las solicitudes de empleo o en las entrevistas», dice Nick. «Por un lado, comunicar la pérdida auditiva puede servir de ayuda para recibir las adaptaciones necesarias durante el proceso de entrevistas e incluso para destacar como un candidato con una experiencia de vida única».

«Por otra parte, a no ser que un empleador potencial le discrimine abiertamente, puede ser muy difícil demostrar tal discriminación en un proceso de contratación si no se le contrata para un puesto. Si un empleador le dice que usted simplemente no encaja bien o que está buscando un candidato con una experiencia o unas cualificaciones diferentes, es posible que nunca sepa si su pérdida auditiva representó un factor negativo en la decisión de no contratarle».

Esta tensión añadida es la razón por la que Nick siempre prefiere comunicar su pérdida auditiva en las entrevistas y habla con gran respeto de la Beca George H. Nofer, una subvención anual que se otorga a alumnos de posgrado en derecho y políticas públicas con una «pérdida auditiva bilateral prelingüística en el rango de moderada-grave a profunda». En el caso concreto de Nick, recibir la beca alivió sus preocupaciones monetarias acerca del envío de una solicitud a la facultad de sus sueños, la Boston University School of Law, que eligió especialmente por su programa de derecho sanitario. Nick fue aceptado y se graduó con honores en la especialización de derecho sanitario.

«Durante mi estancia en la facultad estudié varios cursos de derecho sanitario y colaboré como editor de notas en la revista American Journal of Law and Medicine, una publicación de renombre mundial en el campo del derecho sanitario».

El título de la BU le abrió las puertas para trabajar en bufetes de abogados de todo el país y, después de un verano trabajando como asociado, a Nick le ofrecieron un puesto a tiempo completo como abogado en el bufete Lane Powell. Ejerce en Portland, Oregón, y se centra principalmente en litigios de residencias de personas mayores. No obstante, su trabajo en Lane Powell le permite involucrarse en numerosos litigios diferentes, entre los que se encuentran los de salud y discapacidad, que son su verdadera pasión y el motivo por el que decidió estudiar derecho en primer lugar. Este motivo y, como él mismo dice, «una casualidad» concreta.

«El asesor de admisiones me dijo que Alexander Graham Bell fue profesor en la Boston University», comenta Nick. «E inventó el teléfono mientras era profesor en la universidad, hecho posible gracias al estímulo de la universidad». Animado por esta reunión, Nick solicitó y recibió el dinero de la beca, lo que allanó su camino de ascenso continuo.

«Siempre he pensado que ese momento fue una señal de que las estrellas se alineaban», añade. “Y de que he emprendido el camino correcto».

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