Hearing impairment sparks student to give back

Holly Robinson
Communication Disorders & Sciences or Speech-Language Pathology
Eastern Illinois University

In 3rd grade, Holly Robinson’s grades began to plummet. She was accused of selective hearing and found herself getting into more and more trouble at school.

At the onset of 4th grade, she failed school hearing tests. Doctors discovered that tubes in her ears as a baby developed scar tissues in her ears, blocking her hearing. To avoid hearing aids at such a vulnerable young age, her teacher was asked to use a speaker box and microphone to help Holly hear. She refused, and Holly found other ways to combat her disability.

Over time as Holly and her ears grew, the scar tissue presented fewer and fewer problems. Today, her hearing is back to near-normal.

But the experience – along with her speech-destroying Aunt’s aneurism four year ago – set her on a career path of giving back.

Today Holly, an only child from Bismarck, Illinois, is a sophomore at Eastern Illinois University studying Speech and Language Pathology. Her dream is to help others with problems like hers and to help them understand and overcome the troubles acquired by speech problems.

“From my own experiences, I understand the difficulties with hearing and speech,” says Holly. “I want to use my experiences to give back, to help others regain their skills and their lives.”

Her days are filled with classes and labs on Physiology, Language Acquisition, the Physics of Sound, Child Development, and Communication Disorders. In her spare time, she volunteers on a farm near school working with autistic people, teaching them to ride horses for therapy, something she grew up doing on the family’s horse farm.

After Eastern, Holly will attend a graduate Speech-Language Pathology program then secure a job in one of Illinois’ hospitals, working with those who have experienced head injuries, strokes, or other issues that jeopardize their hearing and speech.

“The Christie Foundation scholarship gave me the opportunity to be here in school – I couldn’t afford it otherwise,” she says. “With the Foundation’s help, I am living out my dream and on a path of achieving where I want to be in life.”