High School Student Recognized by Cochlear Foundation

Luca Bostick-Valero runs during track practice at Brentwood High School

March 30, 2023

Growing up with cochlear implants, learning has not always been easy for one Brentwood student, however, his perseverance in overcoming speech and hearing barriers earned him a respected title with a national foundation.

Sixteen-year-old Luca Bostick-Valero was born deaf and received cochlear implants as a toddler. While his mother Carmen was speaking to Luca in Spanish, her native tongue, she transitioned to English early on to ensure her son’s progress in spoken language.

In search of the best educational services for her son, Carmen and Luca traveled across the country and eventually came upon the Moog Center for Deaf Education in St. Louis. At four years old, Luca began attending the school where he made substantial progress in his speech and language. By first grade, he had shifted to traditional public school.

“In English, especially, I’m always behind, and so it was always a little bit of a struggle, but I just kept on going,” Luca said. “I kind of developed different habits throughout the way like advocating for myself.”

Luca has been able to communicate and travel independently, as well as participate in track and field, soccer, playing the violin, cooking, archery, robotics, art and more.

For his academic and extracurricular achievements, Luca was selected as a National Inspirer by the Cochlear Foundation. To his friends, this honor may not seem like much, but it has greater meaning within the deaf community, Luca said.

“It definitely means a lot because I can inspire others to not let your disability stop you from what you enjoy doing,” Luca said. “I try to look on the bright side of things and kind of encourage that behavior.”

Brentwood High School’s track and field season recently started, marking Luca’s second year on the team.

Track coach Scott Long said Luca’s work ethic shows up on the track.

“He competes well,” Long said. “He doesn’t get discouraged. No matter where he is in the race, he finishes.”

With running experience under his belt, Luca’s finishing times will improve this season, Long said, as team members will set personal goals to accomplish.

Luca additionally runs the 800-meter race, which in Long’s opinion, is the hardest race on the track, and takes a lot of training and practice. Luca said he enjoys running and joined the track team to help him become a better soccer player.

“He puts his head down and gets to work and doesn’t complain,” Long said.

Being an inspiration to others will continue this summer as Luca will be doing volunteer work for underprivileged communities in Costa Rica.

He also has applied to participate in a leadership camp in Washington, D.C. The opportunity is through Leadership Opportunities for Teens, a leadership program for high school students who are deaf and hard of hearing.

Luca submitted an essay on the qualities of a good leader and examples of a leadership role. He hopes to be selected to learn how to be a leader for himself and others.

Inspired by her son’s journey, Carmen became an audiologist and works as a pediatric audiologist at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital.

“Having a connection as a parent of a child with hearing loss is meaningful to me and to many of the families I get to serve,” she said. “I perform diagnostic testing, as well as fit hearing aids and program cochlear implants and bone-anchored hearing devices.”

Story and photo courtesy of Elizabeth Barmeier from Spectrum News St. Louis