Michelle Foos was born with a mild to moderately severe hearing loss in her left ear. She first became interested in ASL due to the fear of completely losing her hearing and being unable to communicate. She also found a language where you don’t have to speak very interesting. A few of her many involvements in American Sign Language at CMU included writing a book with sign language games and working as a direct care worker for a deaf individual for a year. Foos is currently a Doctorate student at CMU for Audiology; she will use American Sign Language in her future career. Michelle majored in Communication Disorders.
Sarah Conway came to CMU as a Communications Disorders major with a minor in American Sign Language. By her junior year, Sarah had changed her major to Youth Studies, but kept her ASL minor because she loved it so much. Sarah says that the most important thing she gained from the program was a strong appreciation for Deaf culture; she is eager to share what she learned from the program with others. Currently, Sarah works at the Boys and Girls Club and helps with after-school activities for the children. While she does not use ASL as much as she hoped, telling at-risk students that she knows sign language is a great way to get them to open up and talk to her. Sharing ASL with these children has helped Sarah with her job and has allowed her to create a closer connection with students.
Joshua Douglas graduated from CMU in May of 2013 and is currently working abroad in Israel teaching English. Working to learn Hebrew and Hebrew Sign Language, he still makes time to practice his ASL skills. When he returns, he plans on continuing ASL interpreting school and hopes to find a job working in Deaf or Blind related fields of education. Joshua was part of the ASL Society at CMU and participated in Deaf Awareness Week every year. He also went on a trip with other students to visit Gallaudet University, learning about the Deaf campus and grad programs. When he exited the program, he had an extensive knowledge of how to teach ASL at different levels. He was a teacher’s assistant, took a course about teaching young children ASL, and even took a class to teach the Deaf-Blind community. He hopes to someday open a Deaf TV Station, similar to one in Israel, to bring news to Deaf Americans. Joshua majored in Broadcasting and Cinematic Arts.
Amy Mitchell graduated in December 2012, majoring in Spanish and minoring in ASL and Legal Studies. She is currently studying at Lansing Community College to become an ASL interpreter. Mitchell first became interested in signing because of her roommate who would teach her signing while taking an ASL class. Mitchell fell in love with the language and culture of the deaf community. Mitchell was a part of the American Sign Language Society and also participated in Deaf Awareness Week events, such as Deaf World, Silent Lunch, and ASL Rocks. Later in her academic career, Mitchell became a teacher assistant for two different language courses and also worked with a local special needs deaf woman for a semester. Now, she uses ASL at the childcare center where she works. According to Mitchell, it is a great skill to use with toddlers and infants who cannot yet verbalize English. In the future, Mitchell hopes to use her ASL skills as an interpreter.
Alexis Voorhies first became interested in the ASL minor after seeing some of her friends involved with it. While in the minor, Voorhies participated in Deaf Awareness Week, attending many of the events held around campus. She also enjoyed attending the signing hands performances at the school in St. Louis stating, “It was really neat to see all of the little kids and how excited they were to perform for all of us.” Voorhies is currently working at Meridian Health Plan, a Medicaid HMO in Downtown Detroit. She does not currently use ASL in her career but believes that ASL will always be a very important part of her life. She dreams of one day going to interpreting school and become an interpreter. Alexis majored in Health Care Administration.
Lindsey Willyard first experienced Deaf culture and ASL in high school, where one of her friends had a Deaf mother. Lindsey experienced the communication barrier first hand, which ignited her passion for ASL. She doubled majored in Communication Disorders/ Speech-Language Pathology and Child Development. Currently, she is the director of a daycare and preschool in the Caribbean on the island of St. Kitts. She teaches her children quick signs and also uses baby signs with the infants. If she ever gets tired of being a preschool teacher, she would go to Lansing Community College and acquire her interpreting certificate. Lindsey’s advice for current and potential ASL students is to get involved because the best way to learn ASL is to participate within the Deaf community and to have real conversations with individuals who experience what it is like to be deaf.
Kimberly Williamson decided to take an ASL class in preparation as her father was losing his hearing, and loved it so much she decided to minor in it. She was a member of ASLS, and was extremely active in DAW as a participant and later as a leader. She was a Teacher’s Assistant for an ASL 101 class. Kimberly is now an ASL teacher at a public school in the Grand Rapids area and spends a lot of time at local Deaf socials. Kimberly loved CMU’s program saying, “I met so many amazing people in the program, it was a neat bond to have between us… Due to such a high level of engagement, I believe we were closer than a lot of other students in other language classes.” Kimberly majored in Language Arts.