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Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District

Heights Grad Studies ASL in Immersion Program

Oct. 10, 2018 -- Many Heights High graduates will tell you that their educational experience in Tiger Nation helped them find and use their voice once they got out into the world. Not so for 2017 graduate Maeve Hackman. Her Heights experience helped her learn not to use her voice at all.

Maeve, a sophomore at Kent State University, is majoring in American Sign Language, with a minor in Education, because she wants to one day return to Heights High as an ASL teacher and “make a difference in people’s lives the way Mr. Stewart made a difference in my life.” She’s referring to David Stewart, who teaches upper level American Sign Language and was Maeve’s teacher her junior and senior years.

Because she tested out of several entry level courses at Kent, Maeve decided to take a leap and apply as a visiting student for an immersion program at Gallaudet University in Washington D.C., the nation’s first and most prestigious college for deaf students. The application included a video of Maeve signing her responses to questions, as well as an interview conducted entirely in ASL. As one of a tiny percentage of hearing students to be accepted, Maeve is now several weeks into her semester at Gallaudet, where she suddenly finds herself a minority in a very distinct culture.

“The deaf students sort of pity me,” she said with a laugh. “Like, oh that poor hearing girl.” When reading the student feedback on a presentation she gave using ASL in her public speaking course, one of her deaf classmates encouraged her to “stay strong.”

Maeve admits that her course work is hard, as anyone studying Psychology 101 in a foreign language would agree, but she says it gets easier every day. And she knows this experience will prepare her for her chosen career in a way that nothing else can. As her mother said, while Maeve’s ears have been closed, “her eyes have been opened to the wonderful world of deaf culture.”

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