March 2020

Jasper Payne (14, Omaha, NE)

Congratulations to Jasper Payne, the March 2020 Rising Star!  The Rising Star award is presented monthly to a deaf or hard of hearing student in Nebraska who stands out as a positive role model within their communities and to their peers. Students are selected based on nominations from parents, teachers, or other community members and are recognized by the Hands and Voices Guide By Your Side Program and Nebraska Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI).

Jasper was nominated by his mother, Larissa Payne, who submitted the following:

“I would like to nominate my son, Jasper Payne, aged 14, who has a bilateral conductive loss. He is a gentle old soul who has not only persevered in learning and practicing self advocacy as an introvert in an extroverted community but also has gained confidence in speaking up for his needs to strangers. He plays violin, loves to do his online homeschooling program, communicates his needs to his teachers, and has performed in plays and speeches publicly over the years. The reason I am nominating him is for his perseverance in going to Lincoln to testify before the Banking Committee to move the hearing aid bill coverage by insurance companies to the Unicameral floor.  This, as Carol Blood shared, was a crucial time and she had to get the votes then, or risk losing the bill entirely. Jasper, in addition to myself and 15 others, spoke before the committee. He often has difficulty with a time limit, but he shared honestly, clearly, and vulnerably about how he has a hard time focusing on school because of being worried about money. Many on the Committee asked him questions during and after his testimony, and  the Chairman came over to shake his hand and thanked him for sharing. I was deeply moved and proud of him and glad for this chance for him to have a voice in a real issue that affects him. The bill was moved to the floor, debated and passed, and it is now law.”

If you know a student that you believe is worthy of recognition, please submit a written nomination to Jessica Hoss at