Assistant Professor of American Sign Language
B.S. Deaf Education, Ball State University
M.A. Ball State University
Ph.D. candidate, Ball State University
WHEN YOU WERE A CHILD, WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GREW UP?
WHY OR HOW DID YOU CHOOSE THIS FIELD?
It seems strange, but I was drawn to this field because of some natural abilities and skills that I have. I have been able to manipulate things with my hands and someone told me that I should learn sign language. I had never seen or met a signed language interpreter or even a Deaf person for that matter! But I think I have a skill with languages and linguistics and was naturally drawn to it.
And I also was fortunate to have been around a variety of cultures growing up. My parents housed missionaries a lot, and we went on a couple of mission trips. I also have a younger sister who was adopted from Korea. Learning about Deaf Culture (about a culture and language different from mine) was not a big deal to me. Within the last few years, I have taken my interpreting career to a different level – and that is teaching interpreting – which I absolutely love!
WHAT’S EXCITING ABOUT YOUR JOB OR THIS FIELD?
There are many exciting things to talk about with this job. As an interpreter you get to be right smack dab in the middle of people’s lives. Sometimes it’s difficult – interpreting for a custody battle or child abuse – and sometimes its fun – interpreting the birth of a child, a wedding, and training on a new job. You get to be in the most private and intimate moments in people’s lives. It’s a great honor.
And then there’s teaching interpreting – which offers all of the above yet with the challenge of students who have little life experience yet and have never interpreted. I think what is most exciting is guiding and watching students figure out who they are and what they really want to do with their lives.
WHAT HAS BEEN A STRUGGLE IN YOUR CAREER JOURNEY?
The profession of interpreting is new and is still a developing profession. There are not yet clearly stated standards for working as an interpreter. We are now at the beginning stages of standardization and accreditation.
WHAT’S THE BEST ADVICE YOU’VE EVER BEEN GIVEN?
Do what you REALLY want to do- what you’re passionate about…and the rest will come.
WHAT ARE YOU REALLY PROUD OF? (IN A MENNONITE, HUMBLE SORT OF WAY, OF COURSE)
I am really proud that my two sisters are my best friends and that I can laugh at almost anything!
WHAT WOULD YOU DO DIFFERENTLY?
Find a mentor in my profession from the beginning and listen to everything they said! Don’t wait – find a mentor.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO A YOUNG PERSON JUST STARTING OUT?
Don’t marry too early – and do what makes you happy – what you’re passionate about…and laugh a lot!