Feb 2021 TAPinto.net

Scotch Plains resident Ethan Morrobel has been named one of five national winners of the 2021 Graeme Clark Scholarships, named after a pioneer of the hearing implant industry. This scholarship is presented by Cochlear Limited, enables Cochlear recipients to further accomplish their goals through education. 

Ethan MorrobelEthan Morrobel of Scotch Plains is one of five national winners of the 2021 Graeme Clark  Scholarship

ethanEthan Morrobel at his Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School graduation

“I would not be where I am today without my cochlear implants and the decisions my parents made for me when I was a young child. I know how lucky I am that they carefully researched the options for a baby born with a profound sensorineural hearing loss,” said Morrobel who is Nucleus Implant System recipient. “While making that decision, they had no idea at the time I would later be diagnosed, along with my brother, with Usher syndrome type 1.”

Morrobel, currently studying mechanical engineering as a freshman at Rochester Institute of Technology, remembers finding out about this scholarship at a young age and says it has long been a goal of his to be awarded the scholarship. Morrobel tells TAPinto Scotch Plains-Fanwood that he applied for this scholarship because he wanted to showcase the possibilities available to those who use Cochlear implants.

“I was also thinking about how much it would help my parents with the cost of college,” said Morrobel. Going to college during a pandemic is a challenge that millions of students are facing right now, but Morrobel says he is making the best of the situation he is in and working hard every day to stay on track. “It's definitely a grind and I wish I could have more of the traditional experience...but I am having a good time and making the most of it,” Morrobel said.

Higher education can be a difficult experience, especially when studying complicated subject matters. Watching and listening to lectures is particularly challenging when you have vision and hearing impairments. Morrobel credits his Cochlear implant as being a valuable resource for his day-to-day routine. “I am extremely grateful they made the decision to give me access to hearing as my vision slowly fades. I have had to dream big and work extra hard my whole life to do what most people take for granted,” he added. “For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a pilot. However, once I realised that being a pilot was not a realistic option for me, instead of flying airplanes, I decided I would design them.”

Handling these challenges is one thing, but enduring this while also working through the daily obstacles of living with User Syndrome, Morrobel has had to adjust to living in an environment where his condition isn’t known to those around him. “Meeting people in environments that are not deaf blind friendly; like when it's dark -- most social events happen at night and that is a challenge for me. I ask for help when I need it, and most people are willing to help when I tell them why,” he said. 

Despite having Usher Syndrome, Morrobel has defied expectations and accomplished some incredible feats by not letting his condition define his life. He cites a few things as being standouts to him, with his Paralympic Swimming records taking the cake. “In college, my proudest accomplishment so far is making a working air hockey game using coding, but my proudest accomplishment would be the American records I have in Paralympic swimming, and becoming an All-American Paralympic swimmer. After that would be the Union County Scholar-Athlete award, which I am incredibly proud of,” Morrobel said.

When asked about what advice he would give others in order to accomplish what he has, Morrobel believes that being able to bounce back from failure is one of his biggest keys to success. He reminds us that no matter the obstacles we face, anything can be achieved by pushing your boundaries of what you believe is possible. “It really is just working hard and not letting failure get you down. My favourite quote is 'Do what you can't' by Casey Neistat,” Morrobel said. “At the Super Bowl, I connected with this quote 'winning shouldn't make you happy, being happy should make you win,' because that is the way it should be. Resilience is one of the best skills you can have... to be able to get up after you’ve been knocked down will make you go farther than you ever knew you could.”

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