Question #5: I do not have any Deaf family members. Will Gallaudet still accept me? What are they looking for in my interview and essays?
Yes! Gallaudet does not choose their applicants by whether or not they have Deaf family members. I do not have any Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing family–not even distant relatives. What Gallaudet wants to see in its applicants is a love for Deaf culture and ASL, a respect for those who are Deaf, an eagerness to learn, and a history that shows you are serious about getting involved with the Deaf community.
Knowing what the word “audism” means might help, too. It was a question I was asked during my entrance interview: “What does “audism” mean? ” Well, I did not know, and I had to admit it to the three interviewers in front of me. I found out that the word means to discriminate or oppress someone because of their hearing status. I have found, as with all types of discrimination, it is a two-way street, but most people are only driving like it’s a one-way highway.
It was kind of disappointing for me to find out what “audism” meant. In essence, my Deaf friends from junior college had taught me what was polite and impolite in Deaf culture. Some things I just did without them ever even asking me simply because I respected them as my friends, not because of discrimination or audism. I guess that I was naive enough to think that everyone was made equal in God’s eyes and that Deaf and hearing people do not discriminate against each other like other cultures and races do. I was wrong. They even have a name for it.
I do not know how much the entrance interview has changed since I came to Gallaudet, but I remember when I took it, the interviewers asked me several questions about how I, as a HUG, would respond in certain situations. These situations had basically the same concept: two hearing people are voicing; I walk by and I see a Deaf student standing there who has no idea what is being said even though the people are talking about this student; what would I do about it?
What would youdo about it? Honestly, I gave the politically correct answer because I knew that, in real life, I may or may not do anything about it, depending on the situation. If the conversation was something important, mean, or distasteful, I would either tell the people voicing to sign what they said or I’d tell the student what was said and let him/her react how they please. If it was something minuscule, I would just keep on walking.
Overall, they asked me, I believe, nine questions. Other than the things I mentioned above, there were simple questions like “what experience do you have with the Deaf community?” “Why do you want to attend Gallaudet?” and “How would Gallaudet University benefit from having you as a student here?” I do remember one other question they asked went something like, “How do you think you will feel being in a place where the majority of students are Deaf and you are only one of a few hearing students? Will you feel out of place?”
At that moment, I remember having this picture flash into my mind for just a second of me standing in the middle of a school campus with my backpack on my shoulders and me holding several books to my chest like a frightened, lonely, little school girl. It was almost like a movie clip. Students were all around me, jostling me as they made their way through the dense crowd of people. Everyone moved except me. I just stared straight ahead, looking into the camera with sad brown eyes. The camera seemed to zoom in on my face then circle around me on the first part and then slowly back away to reveal the mass of students during the second part. The muffled sound of a bustling crowd accompanied the close-up, adding to the feeling of loneliness. As the camera zoomed out, the sound grew louder and louder until the snapshot faded abruptly and I remembered that I was sitting in the interview of a lifetime.
I gathered my thoughts and did my best to answer. I do not remember my exact reply, but I remember having this comfort, peace, and resolve wash over me as the vision faded and I answered their question. I told them that I did not mind being one of only a few hearing students and that I was not worried about feeling out of place for, even though I might feel that way sometime in the future, I was here for a purpose, to learn, just like everyone else, and I did not want to be treated any different than my fellow classmates.