Student Spotlight: An Interview with Chloe Hochstein

HSU Student Spotlight highlights student with a unique disability.

 

You see her around campus but may not know her name. As she walks, the tap of her cane resonates with every step. When people see her they assume she is just a blind girl. Some might even feel sorry for her, but that should not be the case because she is extraordinary.

Chloe Hochstein was born prematurely but had full sight in her eyes. She stayed in the hospital until she weighed enough to go home. However, at the six week mark she contracted Group B Strep meningitis, an infection that attacked her optic nerves, limiting blood flow to the occipital region of the brain where the vision center is located. The decreased blood flow caused the optic nerves to atrophy, so her vision loss is progressive. 

“Today I have almost no vision in my right eye and about 7-10 percent in my left eye.  I have no peripheral vision and no depth perception,” Hochstein said. 

Impaired sight has not stopped Hochstein from leading a progressive lifestyle. She started playing soccer when she was four years old and played until her junior year of high school when the game got a little too fast for her to keep up with. As a little girl, she also enjoyed doing gymnastics, but when she could not see her feet on the balance beam, she switched to floor exercises and tumbling.

“To this day, I still love jumping on the trampoline and do flips,” said Hochstein.

One of her favorite family activities is skiing. Her parents put her on the slopes at three years old. 

“Somehow, they always researched the area where we would go and found an instructor who would be willing to work with me.  They would learn tips and tricks from the instructors and then allow me to ski with the rest of the family,” said Hochstein.  “I remember having to wear a ‘blind skier’ vest at one resort but My mom found reflective tape and put some on all our ski wear so that they all ‘looked’ like me.”

Finding the right schools proved to be difficult for her. Many schools, because of her disability, would automatically put her in the special education classes. It took several attempts and a very determined mother to find a school that would accept Chloe and give her a chance.

Something that makes her extraordinary is that she has participated in the “Sports Extravaganza,” a sporting event for, according to the Sports Extravaganza website, “students who are blind or visually impaired who might never consider competing in a sports event. Students with visual impairments will participate in Paralympic type and national sports such as Track and Field, Goalball, and Beep Baseball.”

It is an annual event that takes place in October and comprises quite a few states. Now that she has become too old to participate, Hochstein goes back every year to volunteer.

“Since I have finished High School, I have become a volunteer and few things bring me more joy than helping out.” Hochstein said.

When she got to college, the transition of being away from home was a little rough.

“The first few semesters were difficult.  Most people don’t know how to approach me.  They see or hear my cane and they switch sides of the sidewalk,” said Hochstein. 

Hochstein wishes that people would see her as a person not as a disability.

“I have an amazing sense of hearing,” Hochstein said. “It is true that once you lose a sense, another one becomes stronger. It does not anger me but it saddens me.  I just wish people would say Hi, introduced themselves and ask what they wish to know.  I truly don’t mind talking to people.”

Now a junior exercise science pre-physical therapy major, Chloe boasts about friends who will take her places from church to Wal-Mart, or anywhere she needs to go. After she graduates she intends to go to PT school to become a physical therapist.

She has big plans for her life and has never once let her disability get in the way. Telling her she can’t do something only makes her want to do it more. 

“Go after your dreams, sometimes they may take a different road than you expected,” Hochstein said. “Don’t give up when people tell you can’t or when it gets hard because you’ll always find someone who will support you and believe in you to make it happen.”

 

  • A Princeton Review Best Western College
  • Council for Christian Colleges & Universities  
  • Center for Student Opportunity: Promoting a College-Bound Culture
  • US News Best Colleges
  • Military Friendly
  • Colleges of Distinction
  • College Choice Best Christian Colleges and University
  • University and College Accountability Network