Dakota Center for Independent Living

Katrina, An Exceptional Person in So Many Ways

Katrina is a friendly and outgoing 20 year young athlete participating in Special Olympics sports such as: volleyball, track, bowling, basketball, and softball.   She’s an active camper with Camp Re-creation and in her free time she enjoys hanging out with her friends, going to movies, and watching Aaron Rodgers play football for the Green Bay Packers, Katrina’s favorite team.   Katrina credits much of her support and encouragement to be more outgoing to her involvement with Special Olympics in Dickinson.   She shares they are “like a second family to me.”   When a person first meets Katrina, you will be greeted with a warm smile and might not notice when Katrina turns to stand face to face with you, so she can read your lips to better understand your words.   Don’t be alarmed when she might ask you to “please speak up”, so she can hear the conversation more clearly, as Katrina has a hearing impairment, which might go unnoticed at times.

Katrina was only 3 months old when she got sick and began to lose her hearing.   At 1 year of age, Katrina’s parents were told she was going to be deaf.  Katrina, her parents, and her brothers learned sign language together.   This is a skill that Katrina and her family will always have.

In April of 2016 Katrina received her first cochlear implant and shared it has been, “helpful, but scary at the same time, since I have been without hearing for 19 years.”  Katrina’s initial reaction when her cochlear implant was turned on was, “my mom sounds like Mickey Mouse!”   Katrina is working with her doctor in Bismarck making plans to receive her second cochlear implant.

A few of the barriers Katrina has overcome and is most proud of are: living independently in her own apartment, having fair opportunities at work, using assistive technology such as: bed shaker alarm clock, doorbell light and motion detector, a cell phone that will light up and vibrate when it rings, and having a NOAH weather radio that lights up when there is an alert.   Katrina would like to see more teachers who are trained to work with children who are deaf or have hearing loss, in the schools.   This was an ongoing challenge for Katrina as she graduated out of elementary school and into junior high and high school.

Katrina’s mom, Jennifer, is on the Board for Hands and Voices ND which is a non-profit agency that works with families and individuals who have hearing loss or challenges.   Hands and Voices ND also provides mentoring and support services to families who have a newly diagnosed member who is experiencing hearing loss or is without hearing.

Katrina shared that “overall, her school has been supportive” and she will graduate in May 2018 and plans to enter the workforce full time.   Katrina would like to work with children in a preschool or daycare setting.   Katrina would like everyone to know that “You can do anything you put your mind to.”  Thanks Katrina for the excellent advice.