Nominated by: Donna Lavallee, Au.D. of Hearing Evaluation Services of Buffalo
From: Rochester, NY
Diagnosed with profound hearing loss shortly after birth, Kelly was only five years old when she approached her parents with a life-changing—and historic—decision.
"With my parents' assistance and guidance, I told them that I wanted to be more involved with the family. (At the age of five) I decided I wanted to hear and talk like all of them. My parents then decided that since they were already doing research on cochlear implants that my desire made their decision easier."
Kelly was one of the first children in Buffalo, NY, to receive a cochlear implant.
"I remember my grandparents crying happy tears because I was able to hear noise of some kind when my cochlear implant was turned on. This was frightening but exciting at the same time for me personally. However, the excitement that my family had on that day was motivation for me to be the best I can be and do the best I can do with my life. Looking back, that day was the starting point for me in breaking barriers."
Shortly after acclimating to her new devices, Kelly was mainstreamed at her local school and did not seek assistance from an interpreter.
Refusing to let her hearing loss control her life, Kelly continued to defy the odds and others' limited expectations academically, personally, and, later, professionally.
"(Hearing better) has affected my professional life because I am able to communicate with other deaf and hard-of-hearing people as well as hearing people at work. I am also an adjunct lecturer for NTID (National Institute of the Deaf) at the Rochester Institute of Technology and it allows me to be able to hear my students that don't know sign and understand what their needs are. In my job as a senior financial analyst, hearing better allows me to communicate with others that don't know sign or don't have much knowledge of the deaf community. I am able to pick up the phone and call my colleagues if I need to instead of waiting on email responses."
In addition to excelling in her own life, Kelly is passionate about helping others with hearing loss achieve the same happiness and success.
Kelly currently volunteers her time as a:
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