How Children Succeed

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Emilio Alonso-Mendoza in front of Volta BureauDear Alexander Graham Bell Community,

This time of year at AG Bell is incredibly busy, but it's also filled with wonderful experiences. Not only are we hosting the Leadership Opportunities for Teens (LOFT) program in the Washington, D.C. area right now, but we've just enjoyed an outstanding Listening and Spoken Language Symposium for professionals. Best of all, this is the time of year when we make scholarship and financial aid awards and, as part of the process, we learn about great achievements by young people who are deaf and hard of hearing. This week I'd like to highlight two of the outstanding scholars and next-generation leaders who are receiving support from AG Bell's College Scholarship and Financial Aid programs.

Because of the generous support of friends and families over the years, AG Bell awards $100,000 in scholarships to 20 students each year. These scholarships are based on academic achievement and leadership, and the selection process is incredibly competitive. Awards range from $2,500 to $10,000 and allow students to use these funds as they need them - for tuition, room and board, books, fees, transportation and the particular needs of students who use listening and spoken language like battery supplies, equipment maintenance and specific supports. This year, our 20 collegiate scholars had an average unweighted GPA of 3.78, among a host of significant accomplishments and examples of leadership in their community.

Nancy Barker is one of our 20 scholars. In her application, she wrote about her experiences in outdoor settings, leading a team of deaf youths on a two-week canoeing expedition in the Canadian wilderness. She demonstrated a true passion teaching her kids, saying, "Children have so much potential, that if given a platform for positive growth, they truly grow and shine." She was born to an entirely deaf family yet attended mainstream schools throughout her academic career and was one of the first students of Warren Estabrooks, M.Ed., Dip.Ed.Deaf, LSLS Cert. AVT. Warren is a longtime AG Bell supporter and is well-known among our professional community for his book, 101 FAQs About Auditory-Verbal Practice.

Nancy has also spent extensive time researching wildlife in the African brush as part of her postgraduate work. Her scholarship was awarded to support her pursuit of a doctoral degree in Zoology. Throughout her application are examples of the personal determination and drive that I am proud to see so often in young deaf and hard of hearing adults. "I have come to recognize my inner desire to forever strive, and never to yield," says Nancy. "Upon completing my doctoral degree, I will be the world's first deaf Zoologist working in the field of carnivore research." Nancy's successes are just one example of the limitless opportunities that are possible for our students. 

Marin Zocca at her
end-of-season ballet recital.

Successes like Nancy's are possible because our children are encouraged from an early age to use listening and spoken language. One of the recipients of our school-age financial aid, Marin Zocca, is a compelling example. Marin is 6 years old, and attends the Galloway School, a mainstream private school in Atlanta. She also attends the Atlanta Speech School for speech therapy with her listening and spoken language professionals. Her parents drive both Marin and her younger sister, Nala, 72 miles from Canton each day so that they can receive the best education and therapy possible. In their letter of recommendation, her teachers at the Atlanta Speech School (by the way, all AG Bell members), were brimming with excitement for Marin's potential as a student, and it was clear that they couldn't express enough support for her application. This type of community and family support for children who are deaf and hard of hearing is something that AG Bell strives to promote each and every year in the financial aid process.  

Marin Zocca about to head
out to church on
Easter Sunday.

These programs are only possible because of the kindness and generosity of people like you who are committed to helping our children achieve their dreams. If you would like to make a gift in support of our scholarships and financial aid or learn more about these programs, please follow this link.

We know that children who use listening and spoken language can achieve their dreams. AG Bell is proud to be a part of their educational success and to offer our friends and supporters a way to share in that joy. I am constantly reminded of the great fervor in so many deaf and hard of hearing individuals to achieve and they inspire my own work every day.

Until next week,

Emilio Alonso-Mendoza


"Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort."
- Franklin D. Roosevelt