Monday, May 31, 2021

Back Behind the Microphone

This past month, I spoke at two schools in Elmhurst. It was so incredible to be around kids again! I talked to two 5th grade classes about the book Out of my Mind. The novel is about a girl who uses a wheelchair. She also uses a communication device to speak. Sound familiar? It is nice for teachers because I embody the main character, Melody. Here is the link to the book: https://amzn.to/2T2yA1P

I love all my speeches, but this speech has an air of innocence to it. The kids are curious and not afraid to ask anything. Here are some questions: 

 

- How fast does your wheelchair go?

- What frustrates you the most? Seriously, these kids can be very insightful. 

- Do you believe in unicorns? Of course, I do! 😉

 

These events bring me energy, they are life giving, days like these reassure me that I have a purpose in this world. During the height of Covid, Zoom was the best option to do these presentations. Zoom presentations were like a cupcake without the frosting. When I am there in person, the kids can come up afterwards and ask questions. One little girl who was adorable came up to my caregiver and said, “I think Hannah is gorgeous”. My caregiver told the little girl to tell me herself. When she did, my heart melted!

These two speeches gave me a much-needed breath of fresh air along with a reminder that being a speaker is what I am called to do.

Enjoy getting back to life! 

 Yours,

Hannah! 

 

Friday, April 30, 2021

Graduation Speech

 For those of you who don't know I was chosen as student speaker for the class of 2020. This is for my department; not the University. My peers chose me to represent them in an intimate ceremony the evening before graduation. The department waited a year anticipating being in person. That did not happen. We had the ceremony over Zoom. Here's what I said: 

Institute of Pastoral Studies faculty, staff, students, family, friends, I am honored to be your class speaker and represent the class of 2020. Fellow students today is a day of joy and celebration. We have done so much work to get to this point. We can do 250-word reflections in our sleep; we have written papers that have helped us support our arguments and learned a whole lot about ourselves. Our professors have become mentors that have had lasting impressions on our hearts.

For me, the professors were the first people I met who truly were walking the walk. They are people who are striving to change the world and make it a better place. They inspire me to take action and live as if anything is possible. God smiles down on the Institute of Pastoral Studies because we don’t just sit in our ivory tower, we get on the ground and help people. We are not afraid of people who look or think differently, we will be the people who build bridges between our fellow humans. That is a critical gift, and we are called to use it. Right now, the world is realizing that people who are marginalized need to be seen and heard. Our human family is better when we hear everyone and not just the so-called majority. This is wonderful. However, my fear is that it is a trend, and not going to be permanently embedded in our society. That possibility is unacceptable, we have to be the ones that make sure the marginalized are seen and heard. Hearing voices of marginalized people should be permanent, not a trend.

To my fellow graduates, the fact that you saw how joyful I was and trusted me with leadership positions, thank you. You embraced me for what I stand for, not my disability. Your acts of kindness have been etched in my heart forever. And thank you for not labeling me as inspiring, it let me be a genuine peer. I enjoyed not having that label, it allowed for me to explore different parts of my identity. Please keep the vision you have, to see hearts first and an individual’s circumstances second. You all have a place in my heart.

Finally, I want to thank my family. They taught me to be unrealistic. When I was a baby, a lot of doctors told my parents to have really low expectations for me. They did not subscribe to that belief system at all. They had high expectations and they believed in me and now, I’m the student speaker at graduation getting my master’s degree. Believe in yourself, build a support system, and chase your dreams. Congratulations to the class of 2020 and the class of 2021, we did it! 

 Looking forward to the future, 

Hannah! 

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

30 Cents

My communication device was tilted to the right. Something was very wrong. We were in Starbucks, of course, but my device clearly was not secure. My communication device is on a mount. The screws connecting my device and the mount broke. My caregiver and I were out running errands and with Ace Hardware within walking distance, it was the best bet.

We get there and the manager says, “well, this is unique”. That phrase defines the story of my life and I will admit “unique” certainly fit this situation. I was filled with dread and fear because if I cannot access my device, my life is on hold. The idea was so frustrating that my heart began to pound. Thankfully, the woman who managed the nuts-and-bolts section of the store was not phased as I thought she would be. She took my device downstairs and she figured out that one screw had broken in half. She had to thread it out without damaging the insides. She was needlessly apologizing for how much time it was taking. This is the most important thing in my life other than my wheelchair; take all the time you need.

Her name was Heather. Heather did it! I told her you are my guardian angel and a hero. She denied both names and simply charged me 30 cents for the two screws.

Have a good day,

Hannah!

Back Behind the Microphone

This past month, I spoke at two schools in Elmhurst. It was so incredible to be around kids again! I talked to two 5th grade classes about...