There are no barriers, only thresholds that must be overcome – hearing loss has not prevented Julia Lineri from realising her dreams
Julia Lineri, who works as an environmental engineer, has been determined to reach for her dreams all her life. First, she studied to become a horse groomer, but later decided to apply to higher education in the field of environmental engineering. Her career path has been guided by her interest in animals and nature, and congenital hearing loss has not prevented Lineri from reaching her ambitious goals.
Soon after Julia Lineri was born, her mother realised that the child did not wake up even though the dog was barking right next to her. Medical examinations revealed that Julia had congenital hearing loss, and the girl got her first hearing aid at the age of four months. Lineri is deaf in her right ear. By the age of 24, hearing deteriorated also in her left ear to the extent that implantation surgery was performed on it in 2019. After the surgery, she quickly started hearing with her left ear again.
Lineri spent her early school years in educational institutions where she met other children with different degrees of hearing loss. In fourth grade, she was placed in an ordinary school, her first contact with the world of hearing people.
“After my hearing loss was diagnosed, I was taught sign language as my second mother tongue alongside speech. Being bilingual allows me to choose whether I want to speak or sign. It enables living on the edge of two different cultures. It is unique and livens up my life,” says Julia Lineri from Turku.
Changing careers from horse grooming to environmental engineering
Julia Lineri has been interested in nature and animals since her childhood. Her interests have guided her diverse study and career path.
In the ninth grade, Julia and her family lived in England, where she completed a General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE), which corresponds to two years of Finnish general upper secondary school studies. After this, she returned to Finland and started studying for a triple degree at Ypäjä Equine College and Forssan Yhteislyseo Upper Secondary School. During 2012–2015, she worked as a horse and animal groomer both in Finland and abroad and completed a vocational qualification in equine management, a general upper secondary school diploma and a matriculation examination.
“I liked the equine industry very much. It was great to turn my hobby into a profession. In the long run, however, the field did not give as much as it took from me. Work was demanding and tough, and the wages did not correspond to it. Improving yourself in the equine industry and making work economically profitable would probably have required moving abroad permanently. There was a great shortage of jobs in the field in Finland, and at that time I had to rely on TE Services. In the end, I ended up having horses as my hobby rather than my main job. My desire to apply to higher education also had some background influence,” says Lineri, now aged 27.
Career change was looming ahead. Julia Lineri started her studies in energy and environmental engineering at Metropolia University of Applied Sciences and graduated as an environmental engineer in 2020. Her studies are currently under way at LUT University, where Lineri is studying for a master’s degree in Sustainability Science and Solutions. She should graduate as a Master of Science in Technology in 2024. Additionally, Lineri is currently studying to become a solution-centred coach (LCF Life Coach) at Valmentamo and a nature surveyor at Samiedu.
In addition to her studies, Lineri has worked, for example, cleaning the outer surfaces of aircraft, as a trainee in the maintenance of the district heating network and as a junior planner in environmental sampling. Since 2020, she has been a full-time environmental engineer at Novox Oy in Espoo. Lineri is also interested in setting up her own company in the future.
What made Julia Lineri interested in engineering?
“I was especially interested in environmental engineering. When I applied for a study place, climate change was gaining visibility, and I wanted to make a concrete contribution to combating it through my actions. The opportunities offered by a university degree also seemed important for the future. The engineering sector provides a lot of universal competence that can be applied in almost any field.”
Tips for encountering a person with hearing loss
According to Julia Lineri, our life is heavily focused around the world of sounds. A hearing person does not necessarily even consider it. However, it poses challenges for people with hearing loss and therefore more attention should be paid to accessibility.
“I have little experience of prejudice, discrimination and bullying, but I know that many people with hearing loss encounter them. For example, in the job market, you may be discriminated against in a way that prevents you from getting the job you want because of your disability. I do not usually mention my hearing loss in job search documents. I only tell them about it in the interview because this reduces the risk of me being ignored because of my disability. In many cases, my hearing loss has ultimately not been a problem for the employer. However, you can’t know it at the application stage. People often think that hearing loss is an occupational safety risk, and it is of course important to be aware of that risk. Still, we have always been able to find a solution at my workplaces. Hearing-impaired employees can also mitigate risks through their own actions,” reminds Lineri.
Julia Lineri has a few tips for employers and those making decisions on student admissions on meeting an applicant with hearing loss.
- Speak clearly and loudly.
- View a person with hearing loss as a person just like everyone else.
- See the skills and experience through their hearing impairment.
- Feel curious about how a person with hearing loss could contribute to the experience of interacting with different people.
- Be flexible and open in a situation where a person with hearing loss needs aids or an interpreter – organising this is not at all impossible.
- Please note that an applicant with hearing loss may even have a better attitude and motivation than other applicants, as they have most likely had to prove their capability of functioning in society to others in the past.
The most important thing is to find a starting point and believe in yourself
Despite her hearing impairment, Julia Lineri has dared to dream and achieved many of her goals. How was it possible?
“I’ve always had a strong desire to create something of my own. I have been stubborn about what I want to do, even if other people have suggested that I do something different. Working full time and my current studies to become a master of science in technology, a solution-oriented coach and a nature surveyor may seem preposterous, but is it up to other people to determine what I can do? My parents have always believed in me, and they have never said that I could not do something because of my poor hearing. Achieving my dreams has required plenty of work and perseverance. Time management skills are also important: it is a good idea to reserve time for work, studies and the things that you intend to do each day in the schedule. It is also a good idea to make a note of the moments when you have free time and want to do things that you like,” Lineri advises.
On the other hand, hard work has also exhausted Lineri. She admits that sometimes she should have slowed down, focused on one thing at a time and accepted that not everything needs to be achieved immediately. Lineri is still proud of her achievements, and she has often wondered whether she would have achieved so much if she had perfect hearing. Would she have worked twice as hard for her dreams?
“Dare to dream, even if the path toward your dreams is not always straight. Some young people might plan to go to university after general upper secondary school and study to become a doctor, but sometimes the path might lead to nursing studies first, then to a bachelor of social services and only then to the faculty of medicine. The most important thing is to start something.”
According to Lineri, the attitude and being prepared to work for your dreams have a lot to do with how far people get in life.
“See yourself in a positive light. When you believe in yourself and that everything is possible, you will have your opportunity. Try to see life without barriers: what life would look like if the barriers were just thresholds that you need to overcome? Also remember that you can always change course if you suddenly lose interest in your goal. If you have no goal at all, be merciful to yourself and think about what would encourage you to continue.”
Julia Lineri talked about her career path at the RekryExpo fair on 15 March at the Turku Fair Center. Lineri stressed that this is her story and that she does not represent the entire minority of the hearing-impaired. She reminded us that everyone has their own views, experiences and stories to tell.