Hometown: Julian, Calif.
Why RLM?: I was at another school when I found out about the program through a friend who went to Ferris. He talked about the high ropes and all the other stuff they do. What’s unique about Ferris is its hands-on learning, and that’s what I’m all about. I don’t see myself sitting in a classroom or a cubicle. That’s just not my personality. I try to promote the program to all my Deaf friends.
On fieldwork: We went to Manistee State Park for a backpacking trip, which helped put classroom learning into practice. Also, on the trip the other students learned how to communicate with me. My interpreter was on the trail in front of me. She would interpret to me off to the side so I knew what people were talking about and did not feel left out.
On the importance of having an interpreter: It’s a necessity, like oxygen. The challenge is finding an interpreter who will spend the whole semester engaged with the material. My interpreter isn’t on auto-pilot, just signing what she hears. She’s really good at giving me information. It’s hard if you don’t have the funding or support for that.
Future plans: I’d really like to work for a high-adventure kind of camp, creating opportunities for people with disabilities. I have a dream to start a farm where kids can come and learn about responsibility, communication skills and self-esteem. Not a lot of kids, especially from the city, have ever seen a live chicken and experienced where things come from. For more information on how you can make a difference for Interpretation Services at Ferris, please contact Yolonda Barnes at (231) 591-3664.