Let me introduce them to you.
Julia Wells hails from Washington, DC and her family lives around the corner from the Volta Bureau. When Julia was first diagnosed with hearing loss, her parents were hard-pressed to find the services and supports they needed to navigate a totally new experience. AG Bell was there for them. Julia is attending Colgate University and majoring in psychology and women's studies with an eye towards law school. She is serious-minded and focused, and takes time to see other people's point of view. Her exposure during LOFT was life-changing, as she says: "Knowing about and meeting other people with hearing loss allowed me to know that I am not alone in my experiences with hearing loss in a society in which most people are hearing." She has already begun learning about grant funding with our Development team.
We first learned about Darius Rahmaan from his mom who applied for financial aid while he was attending Briarcrest Christian High School. Darius told us, "Being hearing impaired does not hinder me from becoming the man I want to be in my academic and personal life." Born into a military family, Darius has lived in many different places and learned to be resilient. His time at LOFT helped him expand a very positive and accepting attitude. His focus is on education as the way to become his best self, and he hopes to become an educator himself after graduating from the University of Memphis.
Autumn Puello is incredibly focused on serving others and on leadership. Autumn spent her spring break prior to graduating from high school last month volunteering with AG Bell as a community service project. What makes that remarkable is that Autumn's school was in New Mexico. She is vibrant with a wonderful sense of humor, and I'm very pleased that she will work with our communications staff before heading off to start her college education in psychology at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Autumn says of LOFT, "It was a great opportunity for me to meet others who experienced the same situations and challenges that come with being deaf and hard-of-hearing, and I was able to build life-lasting friendships in the span of a few days. I truly cherished my time in LOFT, as it has opened doors to other opportunities and people in my life."