Author Archive

Coming Soon: Photo Tour of Gallaudet!

September 11, 2011

It seems that every week, I’m sitting in front of a computer, racking my brain for a new gblog topic. Which is why it’s hard to post very often; I’ve run out of ideas!

But, a couple of days ago I got the idea to do a photo tour of Gallaudet. Every week, I will post a bunch of photos (taken by me) of a building or two on campus and add a few comments, as if I am your own tour guide. I’m not sure which building I will start with yet, but I promise there will be a new post next week with some pictures.

Why am I doing this? When I was a high-school student, I knew absolutely nobody at Gallaudet, so I didn’t have access to a lot of the common knowledge that most Gallaudet students have. Which left me wondering: What do the dorms look like? How many dorms are there? What do the classrooms look like? And so on… It’s my hope that, with this photo tour, I’ll be able to answer some lingering questions my readers may have.

I’m looking forward to this, hope you are too!

Cheers,
Heather

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A Happy Problem

September 1, 2011

Another day… another semester at Gallaudet University.

Classes started for us undergraduate students this recent Monday and we are all becoming reacquainted with the things that go along with being a college student, especially the never-ending stress.

As for me, I’m a fifth-year student this semester, basically an old fart. Truth be told, I feel very much older than the members of the freshman class, when in reality, I’m not that much older.

In the midst of a class I had a few days ago, a discussion began among my classmates about Gallaudet’s “happy problem.” Someone stated that this semester, most of the dorms on campus (we have 5) are full and that there is a lengthy waiting list for students wanting a dorm room. Our professor then joined in and stated that this was certainly a problem, but a happy problem.

What does this mean? Well…

After the 2006 protests, Gally’s reputation was a bit besmirched. Some have said that Gallaudet received less funding from donors and that fewer students enrolled at Gallaudet University. It was questionable if Gallaudet would ever heal from the protests.

Over the years, Gallaudet began and continued a process of rebuilding and evolving. Improvements were made, new ideas flowed, and people began to feel hopeful that a new era was about to begin at Gallaudet (forgive my corniness).

The result of all that hard work? Dorm rooms that are almost completely full with a population of incredibly diverse students. That’s a pretty happy problem to have.

Since my first year here in 2007, Gallaudet has changed so much, all for the better. It’s amazing to see this place that feels so much like home to me, continue to improve.

Here’s hoping that more happy problems appear, and that they’re, of course, solved!

Cheers,
Heather

Bald Day

April 17, 2011

Ai yi yi. The semester is almost at an end, I can hardly believe it. So much has happened and I will be sure to tell you all about it.

But first, a few readers have been asking me about Bald Day, so I thought I’d dedicate this blog to one of Gallaudet’s traditions: Bald Day.

What is Bald Day? It’s an event, usually in the first week or so of February, where freshmen students shave their heads. That’s basically it.

Each class, such as the Class of 2013, 2012, and so on, compares the number of students who shave their head, with the ultimate goal being bragging rights. The class with the most bald students is deemed as the class with the most school spirit.

Of course, it isn’t mandatory, those who don’t wish to shave their heads are left alone. It’s definitely a matter of personal choice.

Bald Day is a cross between an official tradition and an unofficial tradition since it has been around for a while, but only recently has the University come to host Bald Day on campus.

In the past, students would have to go to houses off campus, and, well… chaos would ensue. These events turned into massive parties that got people into trouble and it generally wasn’t safe for anyone. So, to ensure the safety of its students, Gally has come to host the event on campus with plenty of supervision so things don’t get too chaotic.

I’m not too sure how Bald Day started, there are a lot of rumors of its origins float around. But what I’ve heard is that back in the day, the male college students at Gallaudet University would get lice and would have to shave their heads. So this became a common thing and somehow morphed into a tradition for the men. Then, I think, in the 1970s, female students joined in on the tradition.

In my opinion, it’s an awesome tradition. In the months leading up to Bald Day, the freshmen make it their mission to destroy their hair as much as possible by dying it crazy colors each day and giving each other ridiculous haircuts (mullets were popular this year).

I shaved my head during my freshman year in the spring of 2008. I had heard of Gally’s Bald Day tradition before I arrived here and thought it was cool because it would pretty much be the only time it would be socially acceptable for me to shave my head.

I didn’t dye my hair or cut it, I just lopped it all off one night and it was an amazing feeling. It also does wonders for your self esteem; seeing myself bald, I realized that I am not my hair.

I also discovered I had a nicely shaped head.

So that’s Bald Day. I’ll try to throw in a few other traditions in my future blogs.

Cheers,

Heather

The Buff and Blue

February 21, 2011

Hello again!

I probably mentioned this in a previous post, but I’ll say it again.  Gallaudet University has its own student-run newspaper, the Buff and Blue. In recent years, the newspaper has gone online and is updated pretty regularly.

I encourage everyone to check it out. It’s not boring, I promise. And it’s a great way for those of you interested in Gallaudet University to learn more about what goes on around here on a daily basis from the perspective of the students (in addition to the gblogs, of course).

Check it out at thebuffandblue.net

Cheers,

Heather

Playing the Field

February 8, 2011

Hey there. It’s been a while since my last blog, ain’t it? Without further ado, let me dive right in.

I chose my second major–Communication Studies–on a whim. All I knew was that I liked to write and that a major in Communication Studies might add something to that interest/ skill. And it has, it really has.

Last semester I took an introduction to journalism course under one of the coolest professors at Gallaudet–Dr. Heuer– and it opened up the journalism world as a possible career choice for me.

This semester I’m taking more introductory communication studies courses, like public speaking and working in groups. I’m not too keen on presenting in front of people, I can never seem to stop my hands from shaking.  But I can see how this skill is important for the future, especially to prospective employers.

But, still, I have no idea what I want to do with my life. Fortunately, I’ve encountered a lot of people here at Gally who feel the same way. I think internships really help in that area. I haven’t done an internship yet but I am required to do one for my Communication Studies major.  I expect that it will help me figure out what I’m interested in and what I’m not interested in.

Learning by experience beats all, I guess.

It’s annoying to be going through all these introductory courses again since a lot of other courses I took a few years back overlap with these courses. That’s why I think I made a mistake freshman year. Instead of deciding my major immediately (which was English and Secondary Education), I should have played the field and tried to find what else I was good at. Maybe then I wouldn’t have wasted time jumping from major to major.

 Let that be a lesson to prospective students reading this blog–explore the variety of courses Gally has to offer before deciding what to major in.

Cheers,

Heather

Gallaudet’s Metamorphosis

September 3, 2010

I’m back at Gallaudet University, the campus of accessibility and opportunities–also the campus of cute but territorial squirrels (they’re adorable, but do not mess with them).  After a long and mostly uninteresting summer, I’m glad to be back at Gally, where something interesting is always going on. However I can’t say that I’ve missed reading textbooks and writing papers.

Since it’s a new school year, I thought I would introduce myself again. So here goes… My name is Heather Breitbach, I’m from Melrose, Minnesota (google it, it’s a really tiny town) and I’m a senior at Gally. Yep, it’s my fourth year here. I remember being a freshman and thinking I gotta go through four more years of this? But now, I can’t believe it’s been four years, I don’t think I want it to be over just when I’m getting the hang of it!

Gally has changed so much since I first arrived. In the fall of 2007, Gally was still reeling from the protests the previous year and accreditation issues. So that meant that this university was going through a major curriculum overhaul. While this was good for the university, it meant that the freshman class who entered Gallaudet University in fall 2007 (me included) were the guinea pigs for the administration. A lot of things like GSR (general studies requirements) classes, a new addition, were unorganized and chaotic.

I remember feeling frustrated that not a lot of people here, specificially the GSR faculty, knew what they were doing, and that there wasn’t a huge variety of students from different backgrounds. They all seemed to be from deaf families and from deaf state schools. I felt left out since I had been mainstreamed and out of the deaf community loop even though I have a deaf family. But now, things have completely changed for the better. Not only does Gallaudet University now have a larger student body, we now have students from a variety of backgrounds, new signers, mainstreamed students, students from hearing families, etc. Instead of feeling like a closed community (as it previously felt), Gally feels more open to anyone interested in the deaf community.

Anyhoo, I am probably going to be here a little longer than I originally expected since I changed my major. I was originally double majoring in English and Secondary Education, intending to teach English to deaf high school students. But after some soul searching, I realized I wasn’t exactly sure if I wanted to become a teacher. I thought that with a major as demanding as Secondary Education, I need to be very sure that it is what I want to do before wasting too much time with it. So, I am still majoring in English, but will declare a major in Communication Studies soon. I still don’t know where I’ll be after graduation, but that doesn’t scare me.

I have lots of goals for the semester and hopefully will be able to complete most of them. I’m an officer of a sorority on campus, have two jobs (gblogging, front desk student assistant at the library) and am a full time student. I guess it’s good to be busy, but not to the point of brain meltage, so we’ll see how that goes.

I wish my fellow students a great school year and encourage my readers to stay tuned for more blogs!

As always, you can ask me anything.

Cheers,

Heather

Reflecting…

May 8, 2010

Hi there!

It’s currently the end of finals week here at Gallaudet University, so that means a lot of students are heading home. I’m heading back home to Minnesota, where there is actually still snow. It will be quite a change from the 80 degree weather we’re having in DC.

I think I mentioned in a previous post that this semester has been the best and worst semester for me so far. It was the worst semester because my dog died, and I was not able to go home before he was put to sleep. I also lost all motivation to do any homework whatsoever and had some serious doubts about my major. But I’ve also enjoyed this semester. I’ve made so many new friends, I’ve participated in so many new experiences, and I had fun, lots of fun, and I figure that is important.

I was previously double majoring in English and Secondary Education, as you see in my brief biography on the gblog home page next to a ridiculously old picture of me. But as I got immersed into the world of Secondary Education, I realized it was not really what I wanted to do. I just did not have the passion for teaching as so many of my Secondary Education classmates did. I have a lot more passion for writing and literature and I decided to roll with it. I’d rather be happy with my major even though the job prospects might not be very good, than to be utterly bored with my major even though there are excellent job prospects, as is the case with teaching. So, I dropped my Secondary Education major, I’m still majoring in English and next semester will add Communication Studies as a second major, possibly photography as a minor.

This means I will be graduating late, of course, but that doesn’t really bother me. There are so many opportunities here that I haven’t taken advantage of, so I’m definitely not ready to graduate in May 2011, as I was supposed to.

I’ve seen this happen to a lot of my friends, who are called “old farts” because they’ve been here for six years, bouncing from major to major, trying to figure out what it is they want to do in life. It’s a hard decision, and I don’t blame them one bit. While it is great to go to college immediately after high school, it doesn’t really help if you have no idea what career you are interested in. So my one piece of advice to you, dear readers, is to gain experience in the fields you think you might be interested in, so you’ll have a better sense of what you like and what you don’t like about that field, which will make choosing a major easier.

So, have a great summer! Good luck with everything, and remember, I’m always here if you’ve got a question, I will also try to update this blog  a few times throughout the summer.

Cheers,

Heather

Rockfest and Spring Break

April 17, 2010

Yikes, I’ve been away for a while. I’ll start this off by updating my readers on what’s going on at Gallaudet now.

What’s going on at Gallaudet? Well, this weekend is Rockfest weekend. Rockfest weekend happens every other year at Gallaudet, it’s where students from our rival, the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), or the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) in New York (the only technical college for the deaf), come to Gally to compete in various sports and fun activities including soccer, swimming, video gaming, ping pong, etc. Since RIT and NTID do not have a football team or the same athletic division as us, we do not compete against them in regular sports. Since they are considered our rival school, we came up with another way to compete with them. Every year, the competition is held at Gally or RIT, when it is at Gally, it’s called Rockfest, when it is at RIT, it’s called Brickfest.

Overall, it’s kind of a fun activity, bonding and having some fun competitions against old friends and high school classmates who just happen to go to RIT. The weekend comes to an end with a big party on campus, and the next day, everyone goes home to prepare for finals week. Which is coming up soon, yuck. Anyway, the point of Rockfest/Brickfest is to socialize with other students, to connect to other communities. Gallaudet is anything but closed off, don’t let our iron gates fool you.

Anyway, I thought I would explain what I did for spring break, which was almost a month ago. Wow, time moves very fast when you’re in college. So, for spring break, me, a friend of mine, and her boyfriend decided to rent a car and drive down to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, where my friend lives. We decided we would stay at her family’s home and stay at a hotel too. I got to see Disney World and the ocean for the first time! However, I’m never doing it again.

Did you know that Ft. Lauderdale is almost at the very southern tip of Florida? We didn’t really realize that. It took us 18 loooong hours to drive from Gally to my friend’s home. On the map, DC and Florida really didn’t look that far apart. Yeah, we pretty much felt like fools. But here’s a nice picture of the beach. Nice, ain’t it?

Ask me anything you want to know about Gally!

Cheers,
Heather

Snowpocalypse Aftermath

February 24, 2010

Hello again, my fellow readers!

The campus is recuperating after the week long break we all received when the snow gods mercifully dumped piles and piles of snow on DC. Sure, a week long break sounds great, but most of us have lots of catching up to do which is hard since we’ve all lost focus! The cafeteria here almost closed, which would have left many of us starving, but fortunately, due to negotiation, the cafeteria and facilities workers were allowed to stay in the hotel on campus. I’ve never been so grateful for cafeteria food! Some of us took advantage of our snowed-in situation and used our mattresses to sled down the hills on campus. Others were simply bored to death. I didn’t do one bit of homework during the break, which later proved to be a bad decision. Ah, well.

Things at Gally are going well so far. We are adjusting to our new president, Dr. Alan Hurwitz, and many seem to like him, there’s generally a positive mood surrounding him.

On another note, our school newspaper, The Buff and Blue, has gone green and is available online, if you’re a prospective student curious about Gally life, I encourage you to take a look! Of course, everyone is welcome! The website is

How Gallaudet Changed Me

February 5, 2010

Pardon me if this post is too nostalgic and mushy for your taste, but when I was browsing some of my comments, I came upon this…

I’m in my last year at Gallaudet and I have changed so much since coming here – for the better. I’ve learned so much about what it means to be Deaf and I see myself and others in a whole new light. It has really changed my perspectives with respect to discrimination, limitations in the hearing world, access to total communication, and the amount of support here is incredible. It wasn’t until my last year here, did i realize who my true friends really are. I’ve learned so much about people and their strugggles and successes and had I not came to Gallaudet, I would have never experienced a different world. I do not regret coming here one bit.

I feel pretty much the same as this poster. Granted, I’m not in my last year at Gally, I’ve still got 1 or 2 to go, but occasionally when I look back on my high school years to the person I was then and compare it to the person I am today, I am amazed.

If you asked me 3 or 4 years ago if I thought I would be living in Washington DC today, I’d probably be screaming “NOOOOO!!!” Growing up I was this very shy girl living in a tiny town, so I didn’t get the chance to socialize or make very many friends. Even though most of my family is deaf, I felt like I wasn’t truly deaf.

I decided to go to Gally because I realized that I was sick of being the only deaf person in school, I was sick of making friends through interpreters, I wanted a chance to succeed without people feeling sorry for me. I was scared, sure, I hate going to the city and feel real anxious whenever I visit one, so how was I supposed to adjust from living in a town where the number of turkeys outweigh the number of people to Washington DC?

Freshman year was hard, but sophomore year was better, I met more friends, and junior year has been the best by far. I truly feel that I am where I belong, even though I could do without the whole city-living type of life here. I feel as if my identity is clearer than it used to be in high school, I’ve made so many friends, my confidence level has skyrocketed, and I’m doing things I always wanted to do but was too scared to try. I think this is all due to Gally’s way of making everything accessible to everyone and encouraging students to succeed.

There are days when I hate this campus and am dying to go back home to the safety of my house, but then there are days where I feel as if I can do anything I want to and that there is nothing stopping me. I never felt that way at home. So, thank you Gallaudet.

Alright, I’m gonna stop the mushy train right here before this turns into Sobfest 2010. Send me questions if you’ve got ’em!

Cheers,
Heather