From: Chicago, Illinois
Growing up in Chicago, Illinois, with a profound hearing loss, Vanessa had to learn how to navigate a world where most people were hearing. She relied on American Sign Language (ASL) in a community that lacked education and awareness on the matter. Between this and additional struggles at home, Vanessa did not complete high school.
Years later, Vanessa was connected with the Cook County Sheriff's Department after being the victim of a crime. As ASL was her primary method of communication, Vanessa had a difficult time sharing her story; however, police detective sergeant, Jim Davis, and detective, Judith Powe, were determined to help her. Corrections investigator, Ruth Mendez, was brought in. Although she was not certified in ASL, she had grown up with a deaf mother and was able to interpret for Vanessa.
Vanessa soon shared with the officers that she wanted to work and go back to school. They decided to help her make that happen – going above the call of duty to help her set goals and stay on task to achieve her dreams. This opened up a new world for Vanessa.
Vanessa proudly walked across the stage at her high school graduation in June 2017. She is now in the process of applying to college and hopes to attend Gallaudet University, a school for the deaf and hard of hearing. In her life and career, Vanessa wants to make it a priority to help children. She has worked incredibly hard and applied for scholarships to make this dream come true.
However, her story doesn't end there. After learning about Vanessa, representatives from HearStrong wanted to do something special for her. In October of 2017, HearStrong connected her with Sertoma Speech and Hearing where she was fit with her first pair of hearing aids. For her, this has been life-changing.
"Hearing better is a hope for a better quality of life," says Vanessa.
Vanessa is a determined individual who does not let obstacles stand in the way of her dreams, no matter how challenging they may be. Today, Vanessa's story serves as an inspiration for police departments to employ individuals certified in ASL. This is important so individuals like her are able to get the help they need.
HearStrong is proud to have Vanessa as a Champion. With her courage and strong will, she will certainly accomplish great things.
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