CCHAT Champion: Krista Rey
The CCHAT Champion Award, established in 2019, honors those who have made significant contributions to advancing listening and spoken language for children who are deaf or hard of hearing. CCHAT Champions carry the spirit of the center in all aspects of their work and demonstrate a strong commitment to the listening and spoken language community.
The award is given to an individual who demonstrates great advocacy and leadership on behalf of individuals with hearing loss. They strive to increase equal access for those in the community, while also serving as an inspiration for those navigating their own hearing loss journey.
Our CCHAT Champion for 2020 is Krista Rey.
Krista’s Story & Connection to CCHAT
When Krista was born, it wasn’t a standard to have hearing screenings for newborns. As a result, her hearing loss went undiagnosed for the first 15 months of her life.
“At 15 months, my mom noticed I was not beginning to talk like other children my age. One day, she received a phone call from my daycare teacher who shared that I did not dance when music was playing that day.”
During a visit to the pediatrician, Krista’s family was told that hearing wasn’t tested until the age of two. Luckily, her mother demanded a referral for a hearing test. It was then that Krista’s family found out she had bilateral severe to profound hearing loss.
When Krista’s audiological care was transferred to UC Davis, her parents called Jean Weingarten Peninsula Oral School for the Deaf in Redwood City. It was then, through Jean Weingarten, that her parents found out the CCHAT Center was opening in Sacramento, and Krista was able to secure the last spot in the first class.
During the next two years, she traveled an hour to school every day and learned the power of spoken language. Her mom would often do work at the school to watch over her daughter, then on the drive home, she would help Krista improve her speech even further. The CCHAT Center helped Krista learn how to listen and communicate through spoken language.
“One day, a light bulb clicked, and my language just took off.”
From day one, Krista’s biggest supporter has been her mom. Krista remembers fondly how her mother would narrate everything she was doing, from folding laundry to cooking. She would talk, talk, talk - just to help Krista improve every day.
School was challenging for Krista, but she developed her skills at CCHAT and became successful in all areas of academics. Throughout her childhood, Krista played soccer and tennis and lived a very normal life. Now she has a lot of friends who don’t even notice her hearing aid or cochlear implant.
How Krista Has Given Back to CCHAT
When she graduated from school, Krista continued to give back to the CCHAT Center and participate in fundraisers and events.
“CCHAT is our home away from home as it is the place that gave me the foundation of language and a love of learning.”
Growing up, Krista wanted to become a teacher, but didn’t quite know in what area. In the summer of 2010, she was asked if she’d be interested in volunteering during the summer school sessions at CCHAT. Krista jumped at the chance, and for the next few years, she spent her summers giving back to the CCHAT community.
This experience inspired her to become a teacher of the deaf. She majored in Elementary Education in college, graduated with a BS and moved to St. Louis to get her Masters in Deaf Education.
When Krista lost the hearing in her right ear in 2016, she received a cochlear implant to help her hear. The implant gave her a new appreciation for oral deaf education because she had to learn how to listen again. She understood the amount of work children would need to go through to learn to hear.
“It was like someone just flipped a light switch and everything was gone. My right ear has always been my bad ear anyway, but it was devastating to wake up one morning and just suddenly have nothing left.”
Krista put her heart into studying deaf education and realized she wanted to teach at CCHAT. She taught one of her student rotations at the school, and in May 2017, she accepted a full-time teaching position at CCHAT.
In addition to her work at CCHAT, Krista volunteers with MED-EL (a cochlear implant company) in an effort to help normalize hearing loss. She is committed to educating the public on cochlear implants because she believes that providing information can open up the world.
Every child with hearing loss deserves the opportunity to live life to the fullest, and Krista is set on helping the CCHAT Center make that happen.
“I don’t consider myself as deaf. I consider myself a normal, independent person who lives a fulfilled life.”