As a child I always had a difficult time being able to hear and my mom always called it selective hearing. I learned early on to hide my hearing loss by sitting close to the teacher and learning to read lips very well. I chose to hide my hearing loss because I didn’t want to be different. Even though this was a couple years after Deaf President Now and the ADA laws were just being passed people still had the mentality of Deaf and Dumb. Children can be cruel enough without discovering that you have a hearing problem. I was pretty successful until I got to college and found that sitting close to the professor became more and more difficult because those seats would fill up fast. So I began taking on-line classes which call for very little social interaction and little to no lip reading of the professor. One day while I was working at a Red Lobster in Saint Augustine, Florida I was introduced to this beautiful language known as American Sign Language (ASL). I was so intrigued yet I felt kind of stupid. We got people in all the time who were Deaf but the only form of communication methods we had were pen and paper. I began taking every opportunity I could to learn about the language and culture behind ASL: learning signs from a co-worker who has a sister who is Deaf, picking up books from my local Barnes & Nobles and searching the Internet for helpful websites. I was ecstatic when I found out that my college was offering ASL classes. I immediately enrolled! Never before had I felt so comfortable in a classroom. I began to open up. My family noticed how passionate I was about my ASL classes. My mom says that even as a child I had wanted to learn. It was the first class I had actually taken on campus in years. Towards the middle of the class I started researching Deaf Education and what schools provided the best programs. I already knew that I wanted to major in Education but was having difficulty finding a concentration. I had heard about Gallaudet even before ASL courses but had no idea what it was all about. My state had several good schools including Flagler College which works in connection with the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind (FSDB) but none of the schools I researched were quite like Gallaudet. Gallaudet was a school truly for people like me. People who were Deaf or Hard of Hearing but the school also accepted hearing students who understood Deaf culture and wanted to know more about it. I knew Gallaudet was the school for me. A school where I no longer had to struggle to hear anyone or fully rely on lip reading. A school where I could be immersed in ASL and learn more about the Deaf culture I missed out on for over 22 years of my life.
This summer I get the opportunity to come and even further my ASL knownledge and this Fall I start classes. I plan to major in ASL/English (dual degree) and Elementary Education with a minor in Deaf Studies. I would like to provide students of all ages; Deaf, Hard of Hearing or even Hearing with the opportunity I never had. The chance to get the best education regardless of the students hearing status. If there is anything I have learned on this quest to find myself and figure out what I want to do in life it is that in the words of Gallaudet’s 1st Deaf President, I. King Jordan…”Deaf People Can Do Anything Except Hear” and really with the advancement of technology, Deaf People Can Do ANYTHING!!!