2017-18 Hard of Hearing or Deaf Scholarship

January 2, 2019

Natalie Nellius is a dedicated, passionate and hardworking student whose biggest goal has become to help others with hearing loss share their stories, and pursue their dreams.

At the age of seven, Natalie was diagnosed with moderate hearing loss. After her diagnosis, she picked out purple hearing aids with highlighter pink, yellow and blue molds. She then began school for the first time with her new hearing aids, but struggled to adapt to the new technology and her peer’s reactions.

Growing up, Natalie said she wanted to mask her hearing loss. She even went five years without wearing her hearing aids, and nobody knew just how bad her hearing was, including herself.

During a middle school play audition, Natalie realized that she could not hear any of the music. In this moment, she realized she needed her hearing aids. After watching a TV show that embraced Deaf culture, she then began to accept and embrace her own hearing loss for the first time.

“I started learning and advocating for myself, and educating those around me about hearing disabilities and Deaf culture,” she said. “I am partially deaf and proud of it.”

Natalie was awarded Sertoma’s Deaf and Hard of Hearing scholarship, and is attending the University of Texas at Austin. She is expected to graduate in May 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in radio, television and film.

“I want to create stories that inspire and educate others who are deaf and hard of hearing to embrace these challenges instead of hiding from them,” Natalie said. “I also want raise awareness in the hearing community, and show others how they can be supportive and accepting to those whose hearing is limited.”

Your generous Annual Fund donations have allowed Natalie to pursue her own dreams, while helping others do the same.

“This Sertoma scholarship has helped me get the education and skills that I need to master communication,” she concluded. “I cannot wait to touch and improve lives.”

Make a gift today to continue helping aspiring and deserving students just like Natalie!



  • Karen Brooks says:


    I don’t know if you can help me but my husband, Kevin, 55, has substantial hearing loss. However, we do not have the money for hearing aids.. He is currently unemployed but studying for his Real Estate license coming up very soon. We have no savings for retirement or otherwise and this new career may be our only chance at having a retirement. We have just barely enough to get him into Real Estate but for nothing else. We have 2 car payments and a mortgage. No credit card debt. Last year we lost our roof twice and our cars were totaled due to softball sized hail, in June and August. His hearing loss affects our relationship greatly, not to mention his job. Please help, or point me in the right direction.

    Thank you,

    Karen Brooks

    • Merritt Whitley says:

      Hi Karen,

      Thank you for sharing your story. We are sorry to hear about the obstacles that you and your husband have faced. However, we can provide you with some resources that may be help to provide hearing aids.

      Please click the link below to explore a variety of state and national resources. You may also use the links at the top of the page to learn more about the national Hearing Aid Project. We hope this list of organizations and programs can help!


  • Stephen Higgins says:

    Hi, I am Stephen I came across your posting and very inspiring. I can relate to your story I was four when I lost my hearing. I been through waves of not being able to hear although, I speak very well and all through school I have gone to hearing schools. I am am pursuing my Bachelor’s in Psychology counseling trouble teens. I should be done summer of Next Year!

  • Walt Zimmerman says:

    I’m inspired, truly!
    “Let no one ever come to you, without leaving BETTER, and HAPPIER.”

    Sertoma Club of Mesa, Arizona

  • Rebecca Gravatt says:

    You are an amazing young woman Natalie! So inspired by your story and your accomplishments!!!!

  • Bob Centanni says:


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