Seventeen-year-old Mountain Pointe student Spencer Elliott may sound like a busy student between being student coordinator and tutor king of the Totem Tutors learning program, president of the DECA Business Club and chess club co-president, but all of those are just titles he holds at school. Outside of school he’s a small business owner, professional skier and ski instructor, sits on the Tempe Union High School Superintendant’s Council; the Tempe Union High School Career and Technical Education Board; and most recently became a member of the Ahwatukee Foothills Village Planning Committee. As a side note, Elliott admits, he’s more than 90 percent deaf.
“I’ve found that my deafness has actually helped me in a number of ways,” Elliott said. “Other than the fact that I can get a good night’s sleep because I can’t hear any sounds to wake me up, it really has allowed me to focus more… Because I haven’t been able to utilize traditional methods of learning, I’ve kind of developed my own methods of learning and processing and interpreting things around me.”
Elliott lost a lot of his hearing after a bad reaction to a chicken pox vaccine at the age of 3 and even more when he got the chicken pox at age 5. Besides the small hearing aids tucked behind his ear, it’s tough to tell Elliott has anything different about him. He said his deafness gives him a unique advantage over others.
“It’s mostly a situation in which that’s the most optimistic way of looking at it and I intend to be an optimist,” he said. “It’s something I hope anyone who is in my unique situation, as well as other unique situations similar to it, can find the positives in things.”
Loss of his hearing hasn’t slowed Elliott down. He became busy at an early age and hasn’t stopped.
He was introduced to skiing at age 4 and got his first endorsement when he was just 6. In 2002, at the age of 8, he says it just made sense to incorporate a business as a professional snow skier. To this day, Elliott is a registered professional ski instructor and maintains membership in the Professional Ski Instructors Association.
In 2008, after a casual conversation with a local real estate agent, Elliott got the idea for his second business.
“She mentioned how much work she had to do but the economy going into recession would not let her hire an assistant,” Elliott said. “It occurred to me that if I put together a company providing well-qualified administrative staff, then there would probably be lots of people, real estate agents, insurance agents, home-based businesses, and small start-ups, who could use some help from time to time. It wouldn’t go with the hassle of hiring too soon or at too great of an expense. Really, that’s how Your Secret Agents was born.”
Elliott says even with all he has going on he’s still a normal teenager. He’s just happy to be busy.
“I enjoy working with my businesses, but it doesn’t consume my life,” he said. “I had a normal childhood, but at the same time I had somewhat of an abnormal childhood in the fact that I was running businesses at a young age. As of now I take the most fun out of assessing politics and assessing economics and how politics affects the economy, and so forth. I realize it doesn’t sound like the traditional ‘Oh, let’s turn on the Xbox,’ but at the same time I find myself being drawn toward the more worldly things. I go toward learning how the world works rather than learning how a made-up world works and enjoying the world for what it is. It’s an interesting process.”
Elliott was sworn into the Ahwatukee Foothills Village Planning Committee by Mayor Greg Stanton on Oct. 3. For more information on Elliott, visit www.spencerelliott.com.
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