Meet Jackie… a Shining Voice and Graduate of Child’s Voice

Jackie is certainly an inspiration!  We are honored to have Jackie Sollars, ’00, joining us as one of our speakers for our 12th Annual Golf Tournament on June 6 at Cantigny Golf Club.  We hope you will consider joining us to hear more from Jackie.  Here is Jackie’s story, in her own words:

Child's Voice Graduate Jackie in her early years“I was born four months premature on November 19, 1993, and was supposed to be due sometime in March 1994. Due to being premature, I lost my sense of hearing. I was about three years old when my mom started calling my name, and I was not responding while I was playing with my toys. She did some research online and enrolled in some sign language courses at her local library.  She thought this was crazy, and truly wanted me to hear and function in the normal (mainstream) hearing world. She then heard about cochlear implants through the hospital. A cochlear implant is a surgically implanted electronic device inside your brain that provides a sense of sound to a person who is profoundly deaf or severely hard of hearing. Then, I was enrolled at Child’s Voice.  From there, Child’s Voice was the road to success.

Child’s Voice was both my preschool and Kindergarten and felt like home to me.  It is truly a family and it will always be an important part of my story. I can’t thank all the teachers and staff enough for all of their enormous kindness and skills – especially to my favorite teacher, Elsa. She helped me become a better speaker, learner, and to transition into the mainstream world. If it wasn’t for Child’s VoiChild's Voice graduate Jackie is all smiles!ce, I don’t think I would be where I am today. Child’s Voice is the true road to success for all the boys and girls with hearing loss that are enrolled now. They can do whatever they want in life or go anywhere in life if they put their minds to it and work hard. I successfully transitioned from Child’s Voice to first grade in my neighborhood, mainstream schools all the way through high school. I made the honor roll in high school, and when it came to college, I applied at several schools from Marquette to University of Minnesota to University of South Carolina, not knowing if they would accept me or not.  In the end it was St. Norbert College for me. I knew I wanted to go there, and it was my calling.

Some of my favorite memories at Child’s Voice are helping Ms. Elsa find her wedding ring when she lost it, the early intervention program with Mr. Rollen, causing trouble on the playground with Paige, the pilgrim play, seeing Santa Clause come visit and making messy art painting with all the students and Mrs. Jeanette. I still keep in touch with all of the teachers and students.  They will always be family to me and it’s a true privilege knowing that I can always go back to that place of my childhood and visit Child’s Voice.

I can’t wait to see the next generation of children to see where they will go. I hope to volunteer a lot more at Child’s Voice. It’s truly great to see how Child’s Voice keeps updating from their classroom’s setting to the latest technology for the next generation of kids.

My mother Maureen says, “Child’s Voice gave my daughter the opportunity to be mainstreamed into her neighborhood school and gave her a “voice” for life! It’s a fabulous school that will forever be part of her success!”

My father Marvin says, “Child’s Voice was the beginning light for Jackie. The skills she was taught with the cochlear implant established a solid foundation for her to mainstream into regular school and succeed.  Jackie’s hard work has allowed her to graduate from St. Norbert College this past semester (December 16, 2016).  Thank you to Elsa especially for all you’ve done for her.”

I’m 23 years old now and just graduated from St. Norbert College which is in De Pere, Wisconsin. I attended from 2012-2016, the class of 2016, and earned the Van Dyke Scholarship which is an award for full-time students that recognizes quality academic preparation with participation in high school activities, community service projects and leadership roles. I graduated with a Bachelor’s of Arts in Communications and Media Studies with a media emphasis and a minor in English. I will be walking at graduation in May 2017, but finished my classes in December 2016. I am so excited I have just accepted my first full-time job! College was my best years and have made lots of friends and loved every minute of it verses my younger years. I hope to move to Texas or California in the near future!

Child's Voice graduate Jackie in her teen yearsLife has many challenges, but I truly believe that children with hearing loss can be most successful in life. This comes from the determination and strength it takes to earn what they want in life, whether it’s sitting in front of the classroom to take better notes or getting out of your comfort zone to make new friends and not letting your hearing loss make you feel like you are less worthy of regular hearing people. Some of my favorite activities are reading, going to country concerts and having fun with my friends.

Growing up, there were moments in my life where I got made fun of because of having two cochlear implants on my ears that seemed weird to them. Having two cochlear implants does not make me dumb, not smart, not pretty or not capable of doing anything as a regular normal hearing person could. It just simply means that I cannot hear as well as a hearing person. I got my first implant when I was three years old and my second on my left ear during the summer of July 25th, 2007 at the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. I thank my parents for encouraging me to get a second implant because I was totally against it, and did not think it would benefit me. I can hear ten times better now, including the beautiful sound of music and when on the phone etc.

Being beautiful is also about accepting who you are and what you have. Some days, I do ask God, “Why me?”, and I always remember to be grateful that I can even hear. I then think about those people who are blind or don’t have a leg or don’t have a house to live in, and that things could be much worse than what I have. At the end of the day you have to accept the things you cannot change and just embrace who you are with confidence. Always remember this verse: “You are Beautiful, For you are Fearfully and Wonderfully made.”-Psalm 139:14

Thank you to Child’s Voice for all you have done for me that has made me the person that I fought so hard to be today from the bottom of my heart.”

Thank you Jackie for sharing your story. We can’t wait to hear more from you in your new job and at our Golf Tournament in June!

 

Please consider supporting families like Jackie by supporting our upcoming Golf Tournament.  Give a child the gift of learning to listen and to speak!  We are so thankful for you!