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Snapshot of a Graduate: Melissa Garcia

Editor’s Note: Where can a Keuka degree take you? This is the ninth in a series of snapshot profiles on members of Keuka’s Class of 2013.

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Melissa Garcia (photo by Brian Cerney)

About two weeks prior to graduation, Melissa Garcia ’13 of Keuka Park accepted a job offer in the Division of Neuroscience and Physiology Research at Upstate Medical University in Syracuse.

In addition, Garcia, who received a bachelor’s degree in American Sign Language (ASL)-English Interpreting, is seeking freelance interpreting work with two agencies in Syracuse.

While Garcia’s new job was not directly connected to her Field Period internships, she said her three years as a work-study employee in student affairs helped her land the job.

She added that fellow Keuka ASL-English Interpreting graduates who did conduct Field Period internships with the ASL agencies where she is seeking work referred her through their connections.

“I truly value the hands-on experience and the Field Period(s) required for the [program],” Garcia said, adding that despite the extra work, “it helped me become more knowledgeable of what is expected of me and more prepared for the real world.”

In addition, Garcia praised the personal touch of the Keuka community: “I love the fact I felt like I was family and belonged within the Keuka staff and students.”

To explore what might be in your future with a Keuka degree, request more information.

Adult Students, Others Inducted Into Honor Society

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Keuka's 2013 ASL class.

They range from social workers to business professionals to police officers to nurses to college administrators.

They are the 2013 class of inductees into the Keuka College chapter of Alpha Lambda Sigma (ASL), the national honor society for adult students.

ASL recognizes the special achievements of adults who accomplish academic excellence while facing competing interests of home and work. It is dedicated to the advancement of scholarship and recognizes high scholastic achievement in an adult student’s career.

Ten Accelerated Studies for Adults Program (ASAP) students and one graduate were inducted into Chi Alpha Lambda, Keuka’s local chapter, Aug. 9:

Dr. Frank Colaprete, ASAP associate professor of criminal justice, delivered the keynote address. He challenged the  inductees to reflect inward. (more…)

Snapshot of a Graduate: Briana June

Editor’s Note: Where can a Keuka degree take you? This is the sixth in a series of snapshot profiles on members of Keuka’s Class of 2013.

Briana June ’13 earned her degree in unified childhood education/special education, with a concentration in American Sign Language (ASL) and a minor in mathematics.

After applying to over 50 schools along the East Coast, including many in New York state, she was offered a position in Upper Marlboro, Md. at Prince George County Public Schools teaching American Sign Language to 6-8th graders in Thomas Johnson Middle School. June said she was initially discouraged that her degree did not seem to be paying off right away.

“I chose to push grad school off for a year to not limit myself to locations for a school in this tough economy. I certainly was lucky to receive this offer!,” she said.

While the job did not spring directly from a Field Period internship or student teaching placement, June said she believed one Field Period at the Cleary School for the Deaf on Long Island, and additional ASL experience factored into the job offer.

June said she valued the hands-on learning gained through her Field Period internships, and the direction she now wants to take her career, even though she is not yet 100 percent sure where she will pursue a master’s degree. She added that the encouragement and one-on-one assistance from professors in both the education and ASL divisions was also beneficial.

“They were always there for individualized help whenever you needed it, even if it was without an appointment, which is big for someone like me who always asks questions. Without the help from my professors always encouraging me and never losing hope in me (even when I did), I definitely would not be where I am today,” June said.

To explore what might be in your future with a Keuka degree, request more information.

“Signs” of Success

A student of Cerney's practices signing from the front of the room during a traditional Keuka course. (Photo by Stephanie Lockhart '16)

Sure, Assistant Professor of American Sign Language- English Interpreting (ASL-EI) Brian Cerney puts “ghost interpreters” to work in traditional courses.

But there’s nothing to be afraid of.

Cerney’s”ghost interpreters” are his ASL students, who attend a traditional class and take turns signing for one another. The practice is one of many employed by Cerney, who directs numerous elements in the discipline. Cerney works with fellow Keuka faculty to give ASL students real-life opportunities to “ghost interpret” traditional classes, such as those in psychology, English or other unrelated fields. With permission of the teaching instructor,  a trio of ASL-EI students, for example, will rotate signing through the course lecture of a willing professor, switching every 15-18 minutes. The seated ASL students will check the interpreter’s message for accuracy.

Because no deaf student is dependent upon the interpretation, “ghost interpreting” becomes  practice without risk, Cerney said. Added benefits for instructors and non-ASL students are that they can become comfortable with interpreters in the classroom.

“Dr. Cerney provides valuable first-hand opportunities that profoundly enrich students’ understanding of their chosen field– the epitome of experiential learning,” said Dr. Anne Weed, vice president for academic affairs.

Cerney initially hoped for five non-ASL faculty members to make a course and classroom available for ASL students to ghost interpret but received 20 volunteers, representing courses in organic chemistry, anatomy, English literature, and occupational therapy, among others. Students have also signed at special events and church services.

Professor of Psychology Drew Arnold lectures to students while an ASL-EI student interprets in sign at the front of the classroom.

Ruthanne Hackman, assistant professor of social work, has welcomed student ghost interpreters to her Social Work Ethics and Diversity course. She said her own social work students get to experience what it might be like to attend a conference workshop with an ASL interpreter.

“In addition, in learning about diverse populations, we discuss reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities and ethical issues regarding working with interpreters for people with language isolation or English as a second language.  Students can directly pull from their experiences with the ASL student interpreters, then expand the conversation to compare and contrast to populations with other disabilities, culture, or language needs,” Hackman said. “I look forward to having [ghost interpreters] in my class this coming semester.”

Dr. Brian Cerney, assistant professor of ASL-EI for Keuka (Photo by Stephanie Lockhart '16)

According to Cerney, an ASL student is not allowed to practice interpreting in one of the courses he or she is registered for credit. Senior ASL students complete 36 hours of ghost interpreting, as well as 15 hours of “shadow” interpreting, when students follow the two primary campus interpreters who voice lectures for deaf instructors Sharon Staehle and Dorothy Wilkins or sign voiced meetings as interpretation for either instructor.

“It’s a restricted set of opportunities which is why it’s a smaller number of hours,” Cerney explained. As students observe the work of the professional interpreters, if and when it makes sense, they may be pulled into translation with the professional, he said.

According to Dr. Doug Richards, chair of Keuka’s humanities and fine arts division, the ghost interpreting provides ASL-EI students “invaluable practical experience in ‘live/real world’ signing, and as a side benefit exposes a wide range of Keuka students to ASL signing – a win-win.”

Cerney concluded: “The Keuka philosophy of learning by doing is alive and well in the interpreting program.”

A “Blank Slate” To Fill

Students Elise DeAndrea and Marie LaBrie on a Tabula Rasa visit to Fort Hill Cemetery in Auburn where Harriet Tubman and William Seward are buried.

Question: Where can a college student discover that nothing – even outside the classroom- is “off-topic?”

Answer: Keuka College, where learning outside of class can sometimes rival learning from a seat, where everything from icons of Buddhism, to towering wind turbines, to abolitionist history, to tattoo artistry, can invite questions and spark intense discussion among students with a passion for learning and exploration.

But it has not always been so.

Keuka used to have an honor society that began fading and died out in the early 2000s, “so the last decade, we’ve had few opportunities for the intellectually curious student,” said Mike McKenzie, associate professor of religion and philosophy.

Few, that is, until 2009, when then-sophomores Stephanie Lange, Aaron Golly and Kelsey Marquart dialogued with McKenzie about starting a group that could “find a way to learn outside the typical confined classroom setting,” Lange said.

They chose the name Tabula Rasa, which is Latin for “blank slate.”

“It’s the idea that we’re sort of born a sponge and we can fill up with knowledge,” said McKenzie, citing philosopher John Locke as the founder of the concept. “To expand someone’s mind, by definition, you have to get them outside their intellectual comfort zone.”

“A lot of the classes that you take are very cerebral, and you have to work through different problems. This is a step away,” explained junior Ross Gleason of Rockingham, Vt., who is helping lead Tabula Rasa this year with junior Sarah Marquart. “What do you want to learn? Ok, go do it. It’s always more interesting to go and experience something yourself. It allows you to get a broad view.”

Icons of Buddhism were discussed at a Tabula Rasa event.

Indeed, Tabula Rasa has covered a wide breadth of exploration. For example, the group hosted a former Mennonite, who spoke about her experience, and later, a Buddhist shared elements and icons of that faith. They visited a winery to learn the difference between traditional and organic wines, and stood underneath giant wind turbines at a wind “farm” in Cohocton. And, they explored historic roots of the Underground Railroad during a visit to Auburn’s Harriet Tubman home, William Seward House Museum, and Fort Hill Cemetery, where Tubman is buried. A two-night visit to a private observatory for stargazing was another outing last year.
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