So, this past week was International Deaf Awareness Week, and the ASL Studies department had lots of great and informative activities. The most standout activity of the week was the Open House on Thursday evening. It was an awesome evening of getting to know our classmates within the department, as well as taking time to listen to our options regarding 4 year programs and career paths. In addition to the mingling and presentations, there was yummy food! Not having to raid the vending machine for “dinner” was a HUGE plus.
The event itself was really awesome and eye-opening. I thoroughly enjoyed having representatives from both Towson University and Gallaudet University present, not only to give us a bit of an introduction to their Deaf Studies/Interpreting programs, but to answer questions one on one and provide guidance. Additionally, a recently graduated student came back to give her insight into the ASL Studies program and how she has chosen to use it in pursuit of her goal (spoiler alert: she’s currently a student at Gallaudet University in the Interpreting Program).
Both schools gave a great overview of their respective B.A. programs, and did a great job of getting the attendees fired up about the possibilities. Two things that stood out to me about each school: Towson University has an “ASL floor” in one of their buildings where communication is strictly in ASL and completely “voice-off”; Gallaudet University has cameras in its classrooms that can capture classroom lectures (which are done completely in ASL, by the way) from multiple angles and ensure that both students and teachers have complete visual access to communication with each other.
In addition to hearing from the reps from Gallaudet and Towson, we heard from the leaders in the World Languages Department who gave us an overview of the ASL Studies program, explained the differences between the certificate and the A.A. degree and told us about mentorship opportunities with deaf mentors. The department leaders gave a great picture of the program overall and patiently answered everyone’s questions. They even included an information packet for each attendee that had the answers to pretty much every question you could think of about the program. By the end of the event, I think everyone was so motivated to either get involved with the program or re-inspired about their choice to start the program; that the room was almost glowing.
It’s amazing what support and feeling “heard” can do for students. I so appreciate what MC has done to ensure that students have not only the opportunity to complete their degree, but the support needed in order to finish successfully. I, for one, am encouraged and looking forward to finishing the semester strong. The evening showed me that while it may not be an easy task being a student with a full-time job and a preschooler, it is definitely possible and is made easier by knowing that the World Languages Department, and MC as a whole, is there backing me up and cheering me on.