CCHAT Alumni Spotlight: Molly Gielar
CCHAT was established in 1996, and as time goes by, the number of children with hearing loss that have been impacted by the program continues to grow. One of the joys of having more than 25 years of experience is now seeing children from the earliest classes becoming successful adults and wonderful examples of what is possible for kids who are deaf and hard of hearing.
Molly Gielar (formerly Magarian) joined CCHAT in 1997, and now 29, she looks back affectionately at the CCHAT program, one that she is committed to help sustain for future families in need of its services.
Early Days at CCHAT
It would be understandable if Molly’s memories of CCHAT were foggy, with it being 25 years in the past. But her recollection of the activities and staff members that helped shape her future remain crystal clear. When asked about her CCHAT experience, she rattles off the names of seven teachers and speech therapists who brought her joy and made a positive impact on her hearing loss journey.
“I remember how much fun we'd have in Diane's interactive music classes and how involved all of my speech therapists were,” Molly says. “(The) classes were so entertaining with all the activities planned, and they really kept each and every student engaged.”
Molly graduated from CCHAT at age 7 and began attending her neighborhood school in 2000.
“(CCHAT) allowed me to integrate successfully in mainstream schools, make friends, be involved in school, and after-school activities like sports, school plays, clubs and more,” Molly says.
Best of all, Molly formed meaningful relationships with her CCHAT classmates, ones that stayed strong even after everyone had left the program.
“I look back on those days fondly,” Molly says. “I'm glad to say that several other people that attended CCHAT at the same time as me, and their families, still remain in contact today.”
Finding Success in School and Beyond
With a strong foundation of communication skills, Molly felt well-equipped to handle the next phase of her life. She graduated from Vista Del Lago High School in 2012 and enrolled at the Rochester Institute of Technology in the fall of that year.
She attributes her academic success in part to the comprehensive education she received at CCHAT.
“The tools and resources CCHAT provides are exemplary,” Molly says. “The skills the teachers and speech therapists taught helped with my speech, listening and communication, and they are used in my everyday life.”
Molly majored in Packaging Science, and upon graduating from college, she began working as a Packaging Design Engineer for a global company that provides expertise for Fortune 500 and similar companies.
“I get to design unique packaging for devices like smartphones, tablets, e-readers, security cameras and more,” Molly says. “I love the collaborative nature of my work, the challenges, and I get to work with some incredibly smart people. I also think it is neat to be able to walk into stores and see my designs on the shelves.”
Looking back, Molly is forever grateful to CCHAT for allowing her to pursue her dreams. She never felt like her hearing loss would prevent her from living a fulfilling life.
“Being deaf presents challenges, but without the communication and listening skills I learned from attending CCHAT, I would not be where I am today,” Molly says. “I am currently involved in video calls, phone calls, and I am interacting with people on a daily basis. I wouldn't have been able to succeed without the hard work from CCHAT and my family.”
Paying it Forward to Future CCHAT Generations
Now married and living in Fremont, Molly has become a regular part of CCHAT fundraisers. Her desire to help current children with hearing loss receive life-changing services drives her to give back to CCHAT.
“I'm so incredibly thankful for the opportunity to have attended CCHAT,” Molly says. “There couldn't be a better place for students who are hard of hearing to grow and develop the skills they need in life. This is the reason why I think it is important to give back, to give other children the same and better resources and opportunities.”