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Krystina is a Clarke alum who graduated from high school in May 2022. Krystina’s listening and spoken language journey began at birth when she was diagnosed with profound bilateral sensorineural hearing loss. She received her first cochlear implant at around 14 months old.  

Krystina utilized Clarke’s Mainstream Services during her elementary school years. She thrived academically and credits her success to her Clarke teacher of the deaf (TOD), “Ms. Brollier was my closest mentor and role model with everything. She helped me with every little thing I was struggling with, especially my hearing loss. She constantly put me to the test and pushed me harder than I would myself.”  

Krystina also developed her passion for dance during this time. “My family, and dance family, as well as dance itself helped me embrace my disability and build a positive image of myself as well as confidence,” shared Krystina. 

During her time in high school, Krystina dealt with life-threatening situations and persisted through it all. She overcame those struggles by advocating for herself. “Self-advocacy skills are the number-one priority to focus on as a deaf individual as well as any other physical and mental disability,” said Krystina. “No one knows how you hear, see, understand, gather and connect information from others but yourself. It is absolutely your job to reach out and use your voice efficiently to get the best service and support that is significant to you. I used positivity to the best of my ability to keep pushing as an individual.” 

The long-standing mentorship from Krystina’s teacher of the deaf, Carrie, provides a glimpse of the significant impact Mainstream Services provide inside and outside the classroom. “As teachers of the deaf, we have the privilege of helping students recognize their needs and resources,” explained Carrie.  “We can empower our students by scaffolding their advocacy abilities until they reach greater levels of independence. Building up a student’s set of skills – identifying essential accommodations and understanding their legal rights as individuals with hearing loss, helps equip them across all environments. Self-advocacy isn’t just about accessing the curriculum to make academic progress. It goes far beyond that.” 

Carrie believes Krystina is truly a “Clarke star” for her unwavering courage, “Krystina uses her own experiences to encourage and support younger students with hearing loss,” said Carrie.  “She even sought out the opportunity to work with an elementary student who is hard of hearing for her high school internship. Empowering and supporting others is one of her gifts!  She’s a natural mentor.” 

Krystina is also featured in another Clarke publication, where she interviewed South African ballerina
Simoné Welgemoed. Watch them discuss the challenges they face as dancers with hearing loss and the importance of their support systems here.

Krystina will attend the University of New Hampshire in fall 2022 where she will study animal science with a pre-vet track, along with exploring speech communication sciences and disorders to help support awareness efforts for those who are deaf or hard of hearing.  

To learn more about Clarke programs and services, visit clarkeschools.org/services

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