Life Portrait Speaker: Stacey McGovern ’92 Credits Montrose with her Resilience

Kiran Kottapalli '18, Contributing Writer

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On Wednesday October 12, Stacey Ochs McGovern, our first Life Portrait Speaker of the school year took our breaths away with her compelling talk. She is an inspiration to young women everywhere, especially when reflecting on suffering and setbacks. The challenges she faced and her determination to overcome them leave me, and I’m sure most of those who were there, utterly speechless. I think I speak for many of us Montrosians when I say we are honored to go to a school that has provided a community and an education for such an amazing woman.

Mrs. McGovern began her story by rewinding back to her years as a high school student here at Montrose. She was an avid dancer and, much like many of us, a dreamer. The lessons she learned at school make her the woman she is today. One part of Montrose that she admired was how the focus was on “doing your best” rather than “being the best.” In addition, the school instilled in her the ability to understand her ultimate purpose while avoiding distractions. A phrase she repeated to us during her presentation was, “Montrose taught me I can.” This is a truth that recurred to her long past high school.

Tragically, at the young age of 25, Mrs. McGovern lost her ability to hear. This was a sudden and unexpected change in her life, and she struggled to cope with the silence and isolation. She explained: “I was in a place of total loneliness.” She couldn’t hear her own children laugh or cry, and she had to adapt to her new life. Her social interactions were difficult. She said, “People would just nod and smile. They wouldn’t know what to say.” She had a hard time accepting this new challenge. Many times, she desperately looked to God for a feeling of love and purpose. “Tell me you haven’t forgotten about me because I feel like you have,” she would pray.

One day she conversed with her doctor about treatments that could possibly aid her hearing. Her doctor suggested a cochlear implant. At first she was scared because the surgery was high-risk. Yet she met a woman who had had a successful surgery, and Mrs McGovern thought: “She can hear what her children say.” Eventually she decided to go through with the treatment; and, with the help of her doctor and months of learning, she learned to hear again. She said, “I would not have been able to get through the five years of silence…without the strength I gained from being here.” Her years at Montrose let her find her inner strength.

Today Mrs. McGovern is the Lead Teacher at Holliston Christian Preschool. She is a two time nominee for the Massachusetts Teacher of the Year award. She shares her story with people all around New England at churches, schools and conferences. In addition, she volunteers at the Advanced Bionics Corporation, which manufactures her implant. She also serves as an advisory board member for the Gift of Hearing Foundation. She has written for The Boston Globe Magazine and the Woman’s World Magazine.

She advises us: “Each of you can, and you will.” Dr Bohlin claims, “This is what the call to greatness is all about.” We should cherish our years here at Montrose and with each other because these may be the years that truly make us who we will be for the rest of our lives.