Champion - Karlie Stefan

Student • Victor

From: Wisconsin Dells, WI

Nominated by: Dr. Rob June of Mile Bluff Medical Center in Mauston, WI

Early Acceptance

“I was born with severe hearing loss,” said Karlie. “For the first couple of months, (my parents) raised me as any parent would raise their child, but they sensed something wasn’t right. Whenever they would talk or clap their hands, I didn’t turn and look at the source of the sound. I only turned when they stomped on the floor, which can be explained because I would feel the vibrations through the floor. They took me in to have my hearing checked and walked out with the results that I was born (with hearing loss).”

Shortly after, Karlie began utilizing hearing devices.

Learning to Communicate

“I was put in a public pre-k program. I was given speech therapy and I used very little sign language. I was treated no differently than my classmates. I learned to pronounce words and control my tone without a stutter. I participated in sports like basketball in elementary school, and softball and powerlifting in high school. Most people I communicate with today would never guess I (have severe hearing loss) unless I tell them or they see my hearing aids when I wear my hair up. Life to me is what you make of it; I was given a challenge in life and I’ve learned to live with it day by day.”

Being Her Own Advocate

“I’ve come to an understanding that you’ve got to take what you have and live it up to the best of it; gaining experiences, pursuing passions, committing to what’s right, and sharing your own talents with the world. You’ve to be your own advocate. I go to class, study, take notes, and learn just like everyone else. I graduated from Wisconsin Dells High School, and now I am a (student) at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse... going for a degree in psychology to be able to start a career in social working. I received no accommodations to my hearing loss and, to me, it feels good to remove that barrier with no excuses.”

Why Karlie is a HearStrong Champion

“I’ve learned that excuses are invalid. If you really want something, you go out there and do what it takes to get it. I wanted to work a job without accommodations, so I did it (at Subway and J&R Express). I wanted to complete school on everyone else’s level—no special help and no making others go out of their way. There’s no need when I’m just as capable. Sure, I have to work a little harder, but the results and the satisfaction are by far worth it.”

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