'Being a Boxer was the Best Choice I Made in My Life'

Lillian WolfeLillian Wolfe ’20 remembers her frustrated childhood tantrums.

As a baby, she experienced severe hearing loss and even after years of early speech therapy, her words were often unintelligible.

“I stomped and cried in frustration when adults ignored me because they couldn’t understand what I was saying,” she said.

A kindergarten teacher, though, took her under her wing‚ meeting with Wolfe every morning with a stock of Laffy Taffy as a reward for vowel pronunciation.

“Mrs. Mandelbaum never gave up on me,” she said. “She used her free time every morning before class to tutor me based on my speech therapist’s guidelines, on top of her already arduous burden of reining in a classroom of 5-year-olds.

“She was the first person outside my family responsible for my competency in talking to anyone or reading anything.

“She set me on my path to be a teacher.”

Wolfe chose to pursue her undergraduate degree in education and learning at Pacific University, where she could earn her bachelor’s degree and teaching license while getting a traditional college experience, including competing with the Speech & Debate Team.

“What sold me on Pacific was the amazing welcome I received,” she said, recounting an initial tour where staff jumped to accommodate her mother’s mobility challenges and her hearing challenges. “The kind, welcoming gestures and the many more I consistently received form everyone at Pacific has made the university my second home.

“Being a Boxer was the best choice I made in my life.”

Wednesday, March 17, 2021