at UNF for two reasons — I loved the eco-centered campus and the opportunity to
pursue my dream of becoming a sign language interpreter.
of American Sign Language started early when I learned some basic signs as a Girl
Scout. Normally I do not acquire new languages easily, but sign language was
different. It is a beautifully visual language, so it just clicked for me.
received my associate’s of science degree in sign language interpreting from
St. Petersburg College. This left me with two choices to complete my bachelor’s
degree — UNF or the University of South Florida. Although USF was closer to my
home in the Tampa Bay area, I chose UNF.
initially thought I wanted to get a degree in an environmental field prior to
pursing sign language. UNF not only has a growing sign language program, but it
is also situated in a wildlife sanctuary. So I was able to combine my love of
the environment with my love of sign language in one beautiful location.
the short time I have been at UNF, I have already been transformed primarily
because of my work-study program situated at the Disability Resource Center on
campus. I was given the opportunity to work with variety of amazing students
with varying disabilities. This has also prompted me to pursue a master’s
degree in visual disabilities so that I can work with a broader range of
has also given me more confidence in myself. Before coming to UNF I was terrified
of interpreting before a classroom full of people. After being given an
opportunity to observe interpreters working in various classes, I’m losing that
fear. And now I am even working as a team interpreter in some classes at UNF
and feel a lot more confident in my interpreting skills.
great UNF experience for me was the chance to participate in a study aboard
Transformational Learning Opportunity (TLO) through the sign language
interpreter program. We traveled to the University of Graz in Austria to study
interpreting, Austrian Sign Language and to take advantage of their vast
resources on interpreting. For the first time, I realized how difficult it is
to communicate with sign language in other countries as there is no established
international sign language. Not knowing Austrian Sign Language, I found it nearly
impossible to communicate through American Sign Language except on a very basic
level. That experience has given me a better understanding of the interpreting
field on an international level.
has opened so many new worlds to me. I have discovered how much I enjoy tactile
interpreting — the type of interpreting for individuals who are both deaf and
blind in which you sign into the other person’s hands. I am hoping to obtain an
internship at the Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults
in New York to continue to learn more about this facet of sign language
All of these experiences made possible by the
support I have received through the First Generation, Alumni Association and
Pathways Scholarship programs. I have also had the opportunity to meet with the
donors of these programs on a one-to-one basis and truly enjoyed getting to
know the people behind the programs. I was raised by a single mother who had to
work two jobs to make ends meet. Without these scholarships, my transformation
would not have been possible and I will forever be thankful to UNF and all the
donors who made it possible.