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Heather Whitestone McCallum

Page history last edited by kristen 11 years, 6 months ago

Heather Whitestone McCallum, Miss America 1995, was the first deaf woman to win the title.  Heather was born in 1973 and grew up in Dothan, Alabama.   When Heather was about 18 months old, she was rushed to the hospital due to a very high fever.  She had contracted Haemophilus influenzae and meningitis.  She was given two doses of very strong antibiotics and survived the illness.  A few months later on Christmas morning, Heather's mother knocked some pots and pans off into the floor and Heather didn't react.  Her mother then took her to Children's Hospital in Birmingham, Alabama, and it was determined that heather had profound hearing loss in both ears.

 

Heather's mother used an oral approach with her and she learned to speak to the best of her abilities.  Heather was mainstreamed for a few years and then felt that she wasn't progressing as well as her hearing classmates.  She asked to go to the Central Institute for the Deaf in St. Louis, Missouri.  After a few years at CID, Heather made great progress and returned home to graduate with her peers.  It wasn't until her senior year in high school that Heather learned to sign.

 

After high school graduation, Heather enrolled in Jacksonville State University.  Heather began looking for ways to help her struggling family pay for college.  She became interested in pageants because of the scholarship money.  She won a few smaller ones, including Miss Jacksonville State University, and set her sights on Miss Alabama.  Heather competed in the pageant two times before winning on her third try.  The next stop was Miss America.

 

Heather won Miss America 1995, and when she was announced the winner, she had to look at her fellow contestant to see who had won.  As Heather was crowned and walked down the run way, she signed "I love you" to all of America.

 

Heather is now an advocate for multiple deaf and hard of hearing groups and is a spokesperson for multiple organizations as well.  In 2002, she was appointed by President Bush to the Advisory Council for the National Institute of Health on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.

 

Heather is married to John McCallum and has three children. 

 

References:

 

Whitestone - McCallum, Heather (2003).  July 1, 2009.  From  http://www.heatherwhitestone.com/site/content/bio.shtml

 

Wikipedia, (May 27, 2009).  July 1, 2009.  From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heather_Whitestone

 

Miss American Organization, (2008).  July 1, 2009.  From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heather_Whitestone

 

 

 

Kristen Mounts Thompson

July 1, 2009

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