ISU GUESS WHO: FROM KALISPELL TO POCATELLO

ISU Guess WhoJenna Crowe

Staff Writer

This week The Bengal is featuring an ISU professor. Without giving away any identifying details, we ask you, the readers, to give your best guess as to who the professor is. Send your guesses to ude.usinull@efilgb.

This person has only taught at ISU this semester, but was a student for four years before becoming a professor. In fact, this professor is so young they haven’t even hit their thirtieth birthday yet.

It was originally this professor’s plan to become a teacher, but they ended up changing their mind. Now, they are also a Certified Deaf Interpreter, a specialist who provides interpreting, translation and transliteration services in American Sign Language and other visual and tactical communication forms used by individuals who are deaf, hard-of-hearing and deaf-blind.

“Having me as a teacher was a moment of opportunity,” they said. “I am very excited to be given the opportunity to teach!”

This professor doesn’t just teach. Outside of the classroom, they enjoy reading books and walking with their dog.

“My dog is a schnauzer, chihuahua, and jack russell terrier mix,” they said. “She definitely can keep me on edge because she loves to challenge me.”

Community service has become a priority for this particular professor, especially the work being done with Project We Lead.

Project We Lead is a local group that is working to help educate and empower youth who have disabilities. They learn how to self-advocate and how to work with their disability. Members can also work with families if they are not sure how to help their child succeed.

“I have been a part of this organization since the start,” the professor said. “I helped build the organization with four other people, so I want to say it has been almost five years now for me.”

Currently, Project We Lead is working on its next fundraiser called Flockober. During this event, members of the organization will dress up in flamingo costumes and flock around people throughout town. There are a total of four flocks, each flock consisting of 10 members.

If people want the birds gone, they can make a donation, give the flock another address, or do both. The fundraiser is a month long, starting on October 1.

This fundraiser has gone on for three years already, and has helped the community learn more about what Project We Lead offers. The money earned in all their fundraisers, including Flockober, helps fund several different needs for members, such as interpreters, transportation for those who are unable to travel and technical equipment needed for events. 

Students interested in participating or learning more about Project We Lead are able to look up the organization on Facebook.

Even though this professor is active in the Pocatello/Chubbuck community, they aren’t an Idaho native.

This professor grew up in the small town of Kalispell, MT, which is also where they were first introduced to sign language.

“I grew up with Signed Exact English and spoken English due to my family,” they said. “SEE is just a way to help the Deaf understand the English structure and grammar.”

SEE is similar to American Sign Language because it is a visual language and was used by this professor for around 12 years before they began learning ASL.

This professor is unique in more ways than just being bilingual; they also had a very interesting start to life.

During the time that this person’s mother was pregnant with them, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

She decided to go through with treatment while pregnant, fully knowing the damaging effects that it may have on her child. Her child was born happy and healthy, continuing to exceed the expectations doctors had about their quality of life.

Currently, this professor still uses ASL every day, but has had some interesting experiences with those who don’t know any ASL.

One major problem that this professor has presented is concentrated around the topic of lip-reading. Many people that don’t know ASL will automatically assume that this professor can read lips, yet that is not always the case.

“I always tell them I can understand them very little if they don’t speak clearly,” they said. “Even then, the best lip-reader can only get 30 percent of what is being said.”

When encountering this professor in the future, please don’t just assume that reading lips is a talent that comes with knowing ASL. Make an effort to try and communicate with this professor, through writing or signing, instead of relying on this person to read lips throughout the whole conversation.

Another problem that has surfaced is the non-signer’s habit of writing this professor off and not being willing to inform this person when pieces of conversation aren’t understood.

“If you wanted to say something then I ask to repeat, it would be greatly appreciated if they can take the time to repeat what they just said,” this professor said.

This doesn’t mean that non-signers should give up on communicating with those who do sign.

In fact, this professor encourages people to communicate with people who can sign and they shouldn’t be afraid to ask if they are able to lip-read or not. If the answer is no, then people are able to take the initiative and find another form of communication, such as writing.

“It means the world to some people if they can see that someone is going beyond the stars to communicate with someone,” they said.

Be sure to follow The Bengal on Instagram, @ISUBengal, to find out the identity of this professor.

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