Why Gallaudet?

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I always am asked, “Why Gallaudet? Why did you decide to come here?” Those questions are almost assuredly inquired after someone discovers that I am hearing. What’s a hearing person doing at a Deaf university anyways? My answer is simple. I love Deaf people and I love ASL. Where else can I go that such a community exists where these two things can be found? Where else than Gallaudet University?

Being hearing, I obviously never experienced going to a deaf school. Even after befriending many Deaf in my community, I still never experienced complete immersion. As I continued learning sign both with my friends and at school and hanging out with my Deaf friends, I began to realize how important immersion is for hearing people to learn sign language.

However, to be completely honest, when I began looking for a university to attend after I completed my A.A.S. degree, I promised myself that I would not go to Gallaudet. There were many reasons behind this decision. Firstly, I did not feel that I knew enough sign to function in a signing environment. Another reason was that I felt hearing people shouldn’t impose on the Deaf-World by entering their sanctuary, Gallaudet University. And, lastly, Gally is both EXTREMELY far from home and expensive.

With this in mind, I began searching for a college (other than Gallaudet) with an ASL degree. At first, I only wanted to attend a Christian school. I found one that offered ASL for a BA and, for about 6 months to a year, I thought that was where I would go after graduation from TJC. However, I began researching their ASL program and realized it was nothing like what I was looking for. So, I started looking again. It was now about a year (a year and a half was what I thought I had) before my graduation and I still hadn’t found a school.

I found about five or six schools that offered ASL as a BA degree and began researching their programs. They were all up north (opposite from where I lived) and the closest school was two states away. Therefore, I considered that one because of proximity and, if I remember correctly, it was either a Christian or Catholic University, which was also a plus. The other programs looked all right but still didn’t offer what I was looking for, even though I wasn’t sure what I was looking for. I just knew that I would know when I saw it. So, I kept searching.

Finally, after much frustration and my graduation date nearing every day, I finally gave in and typed “Gallaudet University” in my web browser. Gally’s website popped up and I began checking out the logistics of the school and their ASL program. Do they even accept hearing students? I wondered. When I saw Gallaudet’s requirements for their ASL degree, I realized this is what I had been looking for. I sat back in bewilderment that the school I had avoided for so long was the only school in the U.S. that offered what I wanted. However, I was still thinking in the back of my head that there was no possibility that I could go to this school.

After this discovery, I began considering the possibility of attending Gallaudet, but kept the idea just within my family. Finances were tight and over the next year, my family faced some of the hardest trials I have ever experienced. These things made the dream of going to Gally seem like it could never happen. Nevertheless, somewhere inside, I kept holding out hope and, more importantly, kept praying about going to Gally.

Eventually, I began talking about the idea of attending Gallaudet University after graduating from TJC with my interpreting friends, Deaf friends, and with other Deaf in my community and at church. Each person’s reactions were different. Some were excited for me, some were perplexed (”they let hearing go to Gally?”), some warned me about DC being unsafe and Deaf signing faster up north than down south and that I may not be able to acclimate, some said that it was so competitive to get in that I may not make it, and yet some encouraged me (”I remember when I went to Gally…”). Despite these different reactions, they were supportive of my decision and encouraged me that my fears of imposing were ungrounded.

Now, I had the support of my family AND the Deaf community, urging me to pursue my goals. Finances were still an issue, so I began to research how to overcome that obstacle. I found different grants and such and began believing that there was a possibility that I just might have the opportunity to go to Gallaudet University.

By the time I was about six or eight months from graduation (in November or December) (Note: I thought I’d actually graduate in a year), I decided to attend Gallaudet after graduation. My plan was to take the rest of my interpreting classes in the spring and then do a semester of practicum in the fall and, after graduating in December, I would go to Gally in the spring. Sounds like a good plan, right? All my professors encouraged me to take practicum separately and not take any classes along with it. I had four classes left so that is why I was planning on this schedule. However, as I will tell you later, I did not follow this plan. God always has different plans, and this is just an example of one of those times.

“‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’” -Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV

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4 Responses to “Why Gallaudet?”

  1. Christine Says:

    Would you recommend GU for a hearing graduate student?

  2. Casey Says:

    Christine,

    Thank you for your response. Yes, I would definately reccommend Gallaudet for hearing graduate students wishing to work/study with Deaf people. I do not know how much you are involved with your local Deaf community, but getting as much exposure to signing, developing strong relationships with Deaf people, and learning what Deaf people value are important things when wanting to major in Deaf-related subjects or work with Deaf people after graduation. If it is not too personal, do you have any specific concerns about doing graduate work at Gallaudet?

    God bless,
    Casey

  3. Amanda Says:

    Would you recommend GU for a hearing undergraduate student? As I read your story I found it eerily similar to my own. I am a rising HS Senior. When I first started to search for colleges I though “only christian colleges…only christian colleges.” But I can’t seem to find a Christian college with anywhere near my plans of study. I want to interpret or to teach ASL or to teach the deaf. I have an elementary knowledge of sign. I can converse with a deaf person but I often need things repeated and I can understand more than I can say. Finances are also a problem. I’d like to go straight to a four-year college if possible. Is that feasible? I noticed on GU’s HUG aplication it asks about your signing ability. On of the boxes you can check says “I don’t sign.” Is it possible for a HUG to enter into GU with like to no signing ability? Sorry this is so long, but you seem to have encountered the same obstacles I have. I would be grateful for your advice!

  4. Casey Says:

    Hi, Amanda,

    Yes, I would also recommend GU for HUG’s, too. I have heard that both the ASL and Interpreting degrees are great. I start taking ASL classes this semester, so I have not experienced an actual ASL class at GU yet. However, I have heard that teachers can be hard on hearing students, wanting them to excell in their ASL proficiency. So, if you are willing to work hard towards learning ASL, then I would strongly encourage you to come to Gallaudet. While it helps to have a good foundation of signing before attending Gallaudet, it is not required. My rommate, for example, did not know a single sign before coming to GU. Usually, professors try to work with students who don’t know sign, and if you want and feel the need for it, you may be able to get an interpreter although I have heard that doing so often slows down some student’s learning ASL. What is important when you come here is to have a love for Deaf people and a desire to learn ASL/become a great Interpreter. Also, know what the word “Audism” means. I was asked that at my interview and could not answer them. 🙂 As for financial aid, that can be an issue. If you are illegible for financial aid through the FAFSA, then you should get at least SOMETHING. However, it will probably not cover more than half of your overall costs. After the semester begins, you can try going to financial aid and getting an extra scholarship if it is available, but it won’t be much and you have to beg for it because they do not like giving hearing students scholarships. Otherwise, going to Gallaudet has been a great learning experience that has challenged my faith and helped me learn more about myself and what I believe. It has given me the opportunity to be in the world but not of it and to share the gospel with my friends and teachers. To me, that is a priceless gift–one that I could not have gotten going to school in my Bible-Belt hometown. I hope that this helps and if you have any more questions, please feel free to ask! Hope to see you here!

    God bless,
    Casey

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