CCHAT Spotlight: The 1996 Class
In 1996, 12 students with hearing loss began a journey at a start-up program called CCHAT. The small center did not have a track record of success, but it had a dream and a staff dedicated to helping these students become successful in every avenue of life.
Now 25 years later, the children in CCHAT’s very first class are adults who have become thriving, contributing members of society. Previously, we learned about Will Andes, a student from CCHAT’s first class who now works for the United States Navy.
Today, we check in with three other CCHAT alumni who have achieved many successes due in part to the foundation built at the CCHAT Center in 1996.
Morgan was just 3 years old when she started in CCHAT’s first class in 1996. While she can specifically remember playing in the hallways of the old La Sierra campus, it is the personal connections and relationships that she values the most from that time.
“The impact that CCHAT has had on my life is hard to put into words,” Morgan says. “Aside from my parents, CCHAT and its staff are THE reason I've excelled.”
Morgan formed a special bond with Marie, her speech therapist at CCHAT in 1996. The two remained close after Morgan graduated from CCHAT, and Morgan credits Marie for helping guide her toward a college career path. Marie even attended Morgan’s wedding four years ago.
“Marie and everyone else at CCHAT gave me not only a voice and the confidence to use it, they gave me the words to express myself and taught me not just how to hear, but also how to listen,” Morgan says. “CCHAT gave me the tools to thrive in the hearing world.”
Morgan graduated Cum Laude from Sacramento State with a B.A. in Journalism in 2017. Today, she works as a marketing and communications assistant for the Western Electrical Contractors Association. She enjoys reading, writing, baking and spending time with her husband, Mitch.
“CCHAT allowed for the world to be my oyster,” Morgan says. “(It) has made my life infinitely easier. That the program has reached its 25th anniversary is no surprise; the legacy of exceptional students, teachers and supporters continues to propel it forward.”
Mitchell joined Will, Morgan and nine others at the La Sierra Community Center for CCHAT’s first class in 1996. He understands the importance that CCHAT has had on his life.
“CCHAT provided me with the ability to be successful in a hearing world,” Mitchell says. “Without the early support of CCHAT and my family, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the same life I have now.”
Since graduating from the program, Mitchell and his family have been constant supporters of CCHAT. For a childhood Eagle Scouts project, Mitchell helped to completely revamp the playground at the current CCHAT campus in Rancho Cordova. Additionally, Mitchell’s mother, Anne, served an impactful 15 years on the CCHAT Board.
Mitchell found great success in the classroom after leaving CCHAT. He earned the honor of Valedictorian in high school before moving on to college at the University of Virginia. Mitchell graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and in Government, and today he serves as a financial advisor and portfolio manager at Morgan Stanley.
“CCHAT’s 25-year legacy is a testament to the dedication of the school’s leadership, donors, teachers, staff and family,” Mitchell says. “I’m looking forward to supporting the school’s next 25 years of oral deaf education.”
Mitchell lives in Williamsburg, Virginia with his wife, Anna. The couple celebrated their 5th anniversary in September.
CCHAT supporters and followers will surely recognize Krista. In addition to her status as a CCHAT alumni student, Krista also later returned to the school as a Teacher of the Deaf.
“CCHAT has created the foundation of what I am able to do and my passions in life,” Krista says. “I realize that without CCHAT my life would look very different.”
Krista’s memories of that first class in 1996 center around music. She can vividly recall joining her classmates and teacher Diane Durston in a spirited music circle. There she would start her day with a smile while singing, dancing and giggling with her mom and grandma.
Krista knew early in her life that she wanted to be a teacher. Upon receiving a Master’s Degree in Deaf Education, Krista sought to give back to the program that made such an impact on her life. She became a teacher at CCHAT and continued the school’s tradition of providing unrivaled listening and spoken language services to children with hearing loss.
Krista’s profound impact on the program earned her the title of CCHAT Champion in 2020.
“To see where the program has started and how much it has grown is mind boggling to me,” Krista says. “Thousands of people have been impacted by the amazing work that CCHAT does every day!”
Krista continues to support oral-deaf education as an Itinerant Teacher of the Deaf in Vancouver, Washington. She enjoys pickleball, quilting and spending time with her dog, Taylor.
The Impact of CCHAT
There is no better testament to the power of CCHAT than the successes of its alumni students. Morgan, Mitchell and Krista have taken the education and skills learned at CCHAT and proven that their hearing loss will not be a barrier to them as they move through life.
For more information about CCHAT’s first class in 1996, read our recent blog, and continue to celebrate with us as we look back at 25 years of CCHAT success!