Humans of the U: Ashley Baker

“The first time I can remember realizing that my hearing loss was causing issues in school, I was in second grade. I didn’t hear the teacher tell the class an assignment was due the next day. When I didn’t turn it in, I was made to stand against a wall during recess. By fourth grade I was diagnosed with hearing loss.

It impacted every aspect of my school work. Some more obvious than others. I was always the shy, insecure hearing-impaired girl who was too afraid to stand up for myself or even raise my hand in class because I was embarrassed—embarrassed about missing important parts of lectures, for not understanding what the other kids understood and thinking I wasn’t smart.

I always kind of convinced myself that I was ditzy because I couldn’t hear or that I was just a little slow sometimes. I had convinced myself that I wasn’t worthy. As it turns out, that was never true. I was just young and needed some support.

When I was 32, my husband and in-laws convinced me to go back to school. They saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself. I started at SLCC as a stay-at-home mom during the day, went to classes at night, then to a shift cleaning medical offices. During that time, it was a journalism course that convinced me that I wanted to pursue communications in college. I loved the interactions with people and sharing their stories.

My time as a non-traditional student led me to some truly amazing experiences. At SLCC I landed an internship at the state legislature and received the prestigious Graduate of Excellence in General Studies award. At the U, I was a student journalist at the Daily Utah Chronicle, I interned at Salt Lake Magazine and made the Dean’s List, twice.

Today, I tell my two daughters to raise their hands if they’re struggling at school, to do their best and set themselves apart. I guess you could say my time here has not only provided me with the necessary tools to find my voice. But more importantly, it’s helped me become the person I’ve always wanted to be.”

—Ashley Baker, Class of 2019, B.S. in Strategic Communications, College of Humanities

We’ll be featuring Humans of the U and sharing their stories throughout the year with the university community. If you know someone with a compelling story, let us know at ThisWeek@utah.edu.