Cornett Scholarship Winner Pursues Degree at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT)

by Tammy Lamb gents standing The NCSA’s Scholarship Committee is pleased to announce Ann Mochinski of Fairfax, VA, as the 2013 R. Orin Cornett Memorial Scholarship winner. Cornett, the inventor of Cued Speech, dedicated his life to increasing communication, language, and literacy skills among deaf and hard-of-hearing children. While this award honors his memory, it is also intended to provide monetary assistance to accomplished deaf cuers pursuing higher education. Mochinksi is a testament to the Cornett legacy because she exemplifies how the use of Cued Speech has played an important role in her academic and personal successes thus far.

One of Mochinski’s high school cued language transliterators, Suhad Keblawi, said, “I worked with her in a variety of classes in the general education setting where she wanted to be challenged, and [transliterated] for her after school for clubs, sports practices and games. She is a diligent, hardworking student who is not afraid of challenges. In addition, she learned to advocate for herself when she needed certain accommodations from her teachers and coaches.”

“Furthermore, I had the opportunity to observe Ann at Cue Camp Virginia where she assisted in the setup for the camp and worked with the younger children, whether helping in art classes, or leading playgroups outdoors. In addition, I have seen Ann participate with “Celebrate Communication Day,” which is sponsored by the Northern Virginia Resource Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (NVRC), where she helped at the Cued Speech booth set up by the Northern Virginia Cued Speech Association (NVCSA).”

Linda Levine, who is a teacher of deaf children in Fairfax County, and has known Mochinski since she was a young child, also expounded on the ways that Mochinski has shown supreme work ethic and determination. Levine reports that “upon entering school, [Mochinski] was a typical deaf child struggling to learn language and access information from her world.

Fortunately, Ann’s immediate and extended family all committed to learn Cued Speech. Ann was surrounded by cuers both at school and at home, and through Cued Speech, her language started to develop. As she grew, Ann was a student who put forth her best effort every day, and never gave up.”

Levine adds, “Ann is a talented artist, a good student, and a very social young woman who will one day make great contributions to society. She is aware of what Cued Speech has done for her, and I believe she will continue to be active in the Cued Speech community and inspire other deaf children through her successes.”

In her scholarship essay, Mochinski recalls how Cued Speech entered her life. “I heard my first sound at four and a half years old and my life was changed from that moment on. I heard my parents’ voices for the first time. I could hear car horns honking, dogs barking, and birds chirping. My parents taught me how to listen carefully and learn what sounds meant. They wanted me to learn how to speak. At first, they considered learning American Sign Language (ASL), but realized that ASL would not teach me English. That was when they heard about Cued Speech. It was exactly what they were looking for, a means of visually teaching me language.”

“As well as discovering the benefits of Cued Speech, my parents also found that there was an entire community of deaf students that cued in my very own school system. They did not hesitate to enroll me in the Cued Speech program right from kindergarten. I was too young to understand why everyone was cueing to me at first. Even my uncles, aunts and cousins learned to cue, but as time went by, the cues began to mean words and I was able to connect Cued Speech to [spoken] English. I was finally on my way to being able to speak, read and write. As an added bonus, the friends that I made in that kindergarten class have remained my best friends through all twelve years of school.”

“I was very shy when I was young because I could not always understand what people were saying to me and I was not sure how to handle conversation. When I got to middle school I had to learn how to communicate with other people, I had no choice but to learn how to ask people to repeat themselves so that I could understand what they were saying. In high school, I joined the team in volleyball. As a freshman, I played J.V. volleyball. Then sophomore through senior year, I played varsity volleyball. I became close friends with my teammates, especially with the girls on the volleyball team because we played four seasons together. It was difficult at first to open up and be myself on a team of all hearing girls, but I stepped out of my comfort zone and learned more about each girl than I ever thought I would just by talking with them. When the gym was very noisy, I looked at the Cued Speech Transliterator right away because I [needed] to know what was going on. Everything was completely different from what I was accustomed to, and I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.”

Mochinski has successfully completed a year of classes at Northern Virginia Community College and we wish her the best of luck as she now pursues her bachelor’s degree at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in Rochester, New York.

For more information about the R. Orin Cornett Memorial Scholarship and the Carol Shuler Memorial Scholarship, visit the NCSA website at cuedspeech.org/cued-speech-scholarships.

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