Champion - Jackie Smart

Musician • Volunteer

From: Penfield, PA

Nominated by: Peg Armanini, Au.D., of Peg Armanini’s Hearing Healthcare in DuBois, PA

Adolescent Hearing Loss

Jackie lived with untreated hearing loss until she was a senior in high school. During that time, it was difficult for her to engage in the world.

“I found myself withdrawing from a lot of the things I loved to do, such as playing in the band and singing in the choir,” Jackie remembers. “I sat close to the TV because I could not hear it. Trying to socialize was very difficult…because I could not follow a conversation at all, especially in a group setting, as I would hear something totally incorrectly. I got to the point where I did not want to be around people.”

She soon realized that hearing loss may be what was holding her back. A hearing test revealed that she had a 50% loss in each ear.

Rediscovering Life and Music

“Hearing aids opened up a whole new world for me. I then went to business college and graduated with an associate degree; I got a job as a secretary straight out of school,” Jackie says. “With the help of my hearing aids, I also rediscovered my music. I never thought I would ever rediscover my flute, let alone [join] the church choir and [become] the choir director after approximately five years. I also received a Certificate in General Music from Berklee College of Music in Boston, a dream which I thought was long gone before my digital hearing aids.”

Using her Gift to Help Others

Jackie uses her music to be very involved in both her church and community functions. In addition to serving as her church’s choir and music director, she also gives flute lessons and teaches Sunday School. She has also played flute for Memorial Day services, 9/11 remembrance services, and benefit concerts for organizations like the Haven House and to raise money for an orphanage in Haiti.

“I hope to inspire someone else that they, too, can achieve [their] dreams with the correct hearing devices,” Jackie says. “Proper hearing aids, when [you’re] fitted with the correct ones that work for you, are a blessing. I could not work without my hearing aids, and my music would definitely not be in the equation. Don’t give up!”

Why Jackie is a HearStrong Champion

Jackie has overcome the challenges of hearing loss to become an inspiring musician. She uses her story and talent to give back and inspire others to never give up.

“With the help of hearing devices, I can actually understand what is being said and I am not ashamed to say I am hard of hearing. Nor do I put restraints on myself because I am hard of hearing; I just do things a little differently,” she says. “One last thing: do not be afraid to tell people you cannot hear, and do not be afraid to reach for your dreams!”

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