Hearing-Impaired Student-Athlete Named 2016 Buckfire & Buckfire, P.C. Disability Scholarship Winner

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Michigan-based personal injury law firm announces this year's winner of the 2016 Buckfire & Buckfire, P.C. Disability Scholarship.

Buckfire & Buckfire, P.C. is pleased to announce that Ellie Tjelmeland, of Springfield, Ill., has been named this year's recipient of the 2016 Buckfire & Buckfire, P.C. Disability Scholarship.

The annual award was established in 2013 as part of the law firm's commitment to helping students with disabilities or injuries who are in need of financial assistance for education purposes.

Ellie, aged 17, said she will use the scholarship funds to pursue a degree in biological sciences.

“I’m incredibly happy and fortunate to be receiving this scholarship,” said Ellie, who graduated high school with a 3.98 GPA and will continue her education at the University of Southern Indiana. “My disability has been extremely difficult to live with, but I've been afforded a lot of support to help me overcome it.”

Born deaf, Ellie was fitted for cochlear implants at 18 months old – becoming the second-youngest child in the United States, at the time, to receive bilateral hearing devices. Despite her debilitating disability, Ellie has found continued success in both academics and athletics.

A two-sport student-athlete, Ellie served as captain for her high school’s tennis and cross country team, and was recently named to the Athletic-Academic All-Conference Honor Roll team for tennis, cross country and track. She is fluent in American Sign Language (ASL), and -- at age 16 -- was officially named a Certified Nursing Assistant.

“This scholarship will help me cut down my financial barriers, and help me move closer to my educational goals,” Ellie said. “My end goal is to work in the medical field, and – ultimately -- I’d love to be a doctor and specialize in cochlear implants.”

Ellie and her mother, Michelle, who lost her hearing at age 25, founded The Cochlear Implant Awareness Foundation (CIAF) in 2005 -- a non-profit foundation that has supported more than 1,000 families in their journeys to find resources about cochlear implant technology.

“Ellie’s story and commitment to overcoming adversity caused by her hearing disability is incredibly inspiring,” said Lawrence Buckfire, Managing Partner and Lead Trial Attorney at Buckfire & Buckfire, P.C. “She is an inspiration to us all, and we are proud to name her this year’s Buckfire Disability Scholarship winner.”

Each year, the Buckfire & Buckfire, P.C. Disability Scholarship awards $1,000 to one student. The scholarship is available to students of any age, with any type of disability, including but not limited to physical disabilities, medical conditions, mental or psychiatric conditions, speech and language, learning disabilities, behavioral conditions, and all other conditions.

Founded in 1969 by David Buckfire, Buckfire & Buckfire, P.C. represents clients injured in all types of accident and injury cases. The firm offers a number of academic scholarships to assist exceptional students with high academic achievements complete their education.

For more information about the scholarship programs, contact the scholarship committee at 1-800-606-1717.

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Matt McDaniel
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