- Please tell us your name.
- Are you Deaf? Hard of Hearing? Other?
- What mode or modes of communication do you use?
I use American Sign Language to communicate with my family and friends. I also write and read English.
- Please tell us about your experience in school. What schools did you attend for elementary school, high school and college? What did you like and dislike about those schools?
I attended Tri County, a rural public school near De Witt, NE, for nine years and I had an ASL interpreter. Tri County was a great school, but I didn’t have much interaction with my peers in class and there were not many Deaf role models in the area where I grew up. I was blessed to have such amazing parents who were involved in my education and their tough love was helpful. I transferred to the Iowa School for the Deaf in Council Bluffs when I was in ninth grade. My parents noticed that I gained more confidence at ISD because I was involved in many extracurricular activities there.
- Please tell us about your work experiences. What is your current job? What other jobs have you held? What was your favorite job?
I am teaching American Sign Language at University of Nebraska at Omaha. I also am the camp director at the National Association of the Deaf’s Youth Leadership Camp (YLC). This camp is a leadership camp for Deaf and Hard of Hearing high school students from all over the United States. We provide many activities and training for them to improve their leadership skills and boost their confidence. It will be my second summer working there and I enjoyed watching them building their self-esteem and leadership abilities.
- Please tell us about your hobbies and interests.
I really like many outdoor activities because I am an outdoor type of a guy. I enjoy biking, hiking, traveling and camping. I like to read mystery, thrillers and World War II books. I enjoy watching Nebraska football. I have many hobbies and interests because I like to try something new.
- Please tell us anything else you would like to share about yourself or your family. For example: Are other members of your family Deaf or Hard of Hearing? Are you married, do you have children?
I am a third-generation deaf individual, so I grew up always having accessibility to both ASL and English languages and communication. Besides my deaf parents, I have a deaf sister and a hard of hearing brother. Plus, some of my relatives are also deaf or hard of hearing. No, I am not married.
- What advice do you have for children who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing and their families?
Children: Don’t be afraid to make mistakes because you will learn to learn from them, and don’t let them affect your confidence in who you are. The world is imperfect. We all make mistakes, but the people who thrive from their mistakes are the successful people. There are many successful Deaf adults out there because they refuse to give up.
Parents: Letting me navigate the world on my own was the toughest task that my parents faced, but they told me it was the best decision they made. It is so important to connect with other parents because you are not alone. You will find much advice from them. Some with older deaf children can look back and offer you ideas to help you with your transition. Also, take the opportunity to connect with Deaf and Hard of Hearing adults to see their perspectives and experiences. I can’t stress enough how important it is to have a Deaf and Hard of Hearing mentor or mentors to guide your children. They need to know that there are many successful Deaf adults out there.