Student Success

Breaking Down Barriers: Attitude, accessibility and support pivotal to success

Bailey Kehrig, MBA '19, posing for a photo.

Empowered with determination and drive, Bailey Kehrig's, MBA '19, ability to overcome obstacles set her on a successful educational and career journey. Photo by Rob Hall.

icon of a calendarFebruary 3, 2022

icon of a pencilBy Emily Morris

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The ability to overcome obstacles is key to Bailey Kehrig’s success.

In early elementary school, Kehrig, MKT ’19, began experiencing hearing loss. By immediately embracing available accessibility accommodations, Kehrig set the course for her future. This mindset empowered Kehrig’s educational journey through K-12 and her undergraduate program. Her determination continues to drive her success as an OU MBA student and marketing professional.

“I've never really been shy of my disability,” she said. “It’s who I am.”

In second grade, Kehrig’s teacher observed her occasional unresponsiveness with other students, noting it didn’t match Kehrig’s friendly demeanor. Shortly after, Kehrig was diagnosed as hard of hearing, which means mild-to-moderate hearing loss, but not considered deaf.

Kehrig’s reaction to her diagnosis set the stage for her future. She describes excitement as her first emotion. She was thrilled to learn about her new community and pick out her hearing aid colors. “It was a cool experience, realizing how the audiologists had helped me,” she said.

As the world became more accessible, her confidence grew. Kehrig excelled in school, earning her high school diploma from Chippewa Valley High School and her bachelor’s in marketing with a minor in operations management from Oakland University. After graduation she accepted a full-time position as trade show logistics coordinator at BNP Media.

“Everyone at Oakland University has been very accommodating because I’ve always been very open and honest about my disability,” Kehrig said.

With assistive devices, accessible classrooms, and supportive faculty and staff, Kehrig immersed herself in her undergraduate college experience. For example, she used both an FM unit and Bluetooth device connected to her phone to stream audio directly to her hearing aids.

“All my professors have always been very understanding,” she said, specifically noting Janell Townsend’s, Ph.D., professor, marketing, and chair, management and marketing department, and TJ Wharton’s, Ph.D., associate professor, operations management, efforts to check in with her often to ensure her classes and lectures were accessible.

“I haven't really ever had a situation where I was embarrassed to speak up,” Kehrig added.

This acceptance and support proved instrumental to Kehrig as she began OU’s online MBA.

Attending classes online presented Kehrig with new challenges. “After my first class, I just broke down,” she said. The lecture-based virtual class was difficult for Kehrig to hear clearly.

Drawing on her lifelong determination, Kehrig rallied herself and reached out to her advisers. “They immediately set me up with a translator, and it’s been a godsend,” she said.

On track to complete her MBA and graduate with honors this spring, Kehrig is reaping the benefits of her determination, education and experience with a promotion to Trade Show Manager at BNP Media and plans to branch into supply chain management.

Not one to shy away from talking about her disability, Kehrig said she plans to weave her story into conversations whenever she can because it could empower others with similar experiences.

“Maybe other people with disabilities will feel inspired,” she said. “There is no limit on what we achieve.”

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