Born profoundly deaf, Brian Moroney continues to amaze those around him by excelling in his educational and personal endeavours.
Every college student and their relatives experience an overwhelming sense of pride on graduation day, but for Co Clare family the Moroneys, the big day was particularly poignant.
Brian graduated proudly with a Bachelor of Science in Mobile Communications and Security from the University of Limerick earlier this week after four years of study.
The 22-year-old was diagnosed with hearing impairment when he was 9 months old. He was immediately fitted with hearing aids and began to learn sign language, which helped his family communicate with him for the first time.
“He was very frustrated at times and it was heart-breaking not knowing what was wrong or what he wanted,” his older sister Amanda explained.
At age 4, Brian was one of the first candidates in the country to be put forward for Cochlear Implant surgery, an innovative procedure which implanted a receiver and stimulator in the bone behind the ear.
“I remember watching his face light up and it was a very emotional day for the family witnessing Brian's reaction to sound for the first time,” his sister recalls remembering the day the unit was switched on.
The toddler developed stress-induced alopecia during the recovery and his family were encouraged to teach him how to lip read in order for him to gradually learn how to talk as he enrolled in a School for the Hearing Impaired.
“He found it hard to interact socially with other children so he spent a lot of time with my father in the garage, learning motor mechanics,” Amanda said.
“But we knew he was going to be fine when he locked our Nana into a van and started driving her around the yard at age 7,” she joked. “He was flying through the homework and started getting frustrated as he found it too easy so we had to constantly ask for them to challenge him a little bit more in school.”
As a result, it was a particularly hard pill for his parents to swallow when doctors said that if Brian was ever able to read and write, he'd be lucky.
“From this point, our mother, Ann, looked down the various avenues to seek better help and advice but back then it was fairly limited.”
While Brian excelled in practical subjects, his teachers refused to give him homework under doctor’s advice. As a result, Ann withdrew him from the school and put him into a mainstream school when he turned 12.
To their amazement, Brian sat the Junior and Leaving Certificate and was accepted into UL for his course.
“Brian has shown that a disability is not a reason to write off someone's future- he excelled once he received the right support and should be challenged to his full potential, like everyone else,” praised Amanda.
Brian has now been working alongside his sister and her partner Daniel, who run an online nutrition and personal training consultancy named 'Recalibrated Bodies'.
“Brian built the current website with Daniel and has helped develop all the formulas and templates that we use to design nutrition programs. He is helping to build innovative software, which will provide our client's with a quicker, easier and more interactive platform to perform their reviews, access their programs, build easy-to-use meals for the their nutritional requirements and periodically review their continuous progress on demand.”
Next year, Brian hopes to return to UL to complete a Masters degree.
Interestingly, his time spent working in the garage with his dad Kieran ignited a love for quad and dirt bikes.
“Much to the dismay of my parents, he started racing when he was 8 and has kept it up ever since. Thankfully, he has had only one minor incident,” Amanda revealed.
“It has given him so much self-confidence over the years and has made great friends along the way.”
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