skip to content
Primary navigation

Successful Transitioning: A Panel of Successful Adults (ASL and English) with Elise Knopf and Panelists Transcript

Elise: Thank you, Michelle. Hello, everyone. And welcome. It's such a thrill to have our panel today. It's an exciting moment for all of us to hear this wonderful stories -- their wonderful stories and their experiences. Of growing up, working, going to college. But have you enjoyed yourself so far? How's the conference been going? Are you sad that it's the last day? And we have such beautiful weather outside! I'm so happy that you were able to be a part of this wonderful collaborative conference. Thank you to the interpreters, the supporters, the exhibitors, everyone who made this possible,  Anna Paulson, you are amazing! Yay! I'm very fortunate to be facilitating the panel today. Unfortunately, Katie Kelley did not feel well this morning, so I will be doing this solo. And that's okay. But I am thrilled to be here. So let me discuss the purpose of the panel. We're wanting to assist teachers, V.R. counselors, audiologists, paraprofessionals, interpreters to understand why we're here. We want to make students successful. We want them to have successful adult lives. And so our goal is to support them and their families, to continue in their communities, to have role models when they're young. And to keep that going for successful lives. On my left I'd like to start introducing Brandi Brendmoen. They're not in the same order that are on the screen. I'm sorry. In the middle here on my right, we have Tessa Gilson. And her brother next to her, Ty Gilson. And at the end here on my right is Moises Prince. And last but definitely not least, is Kyle Wright. And I'm sorry, Kyle, what is your name sign? I just spell it. Great. So we've introduced all of them. We had a little practice session beforehand. So kind of get their stories out. And, you know, it's a little difficult to remember from, you know, when you were very young to where you are now, so we had a little practice session, I think that was good for everyone. So who would like to start? With your name, where you're from, where you live now. 

>> Tessa: I guess I can. My name is Tessa. I'm from Brainerd. And I go to North Dakota State University. I've been there for two years now. 

>> Ty: And I'm Ty. And I'm also from the area here in Brainerd. I did graduate from Bemidji State University and I've been looking for a job since then. 

>> Is it better if I stand? Oh, I'll stand too in the future. 

>> Kyle: Yeah, so I'm Kyle. I grew up in a rural area and I'm living in Ramsey now. I'm living independent. I have a room mate on my own. And I'm not sure when I'll go back to school,  but I think soon. 

>> Elise: Thank you. 

>> Brandi: And hi, my name is Brandi. I'm from Minneapolis. That's where I grew up. I am now working full time for a nonprofit organization. I graduated from college at Metro State University. In December of 2014 -- 

>> Elise:Yep, just last year, wow. 

>> Brandi: Yes, thank you. 

>> Moises: And I'm Moises. I'm actually from Mexico. I moved here in 2006 to Minnesota. I currently live in Minneapolis in the New Hope area. And I'm hoping that I can become a chef at some point as my profession. 

Elise:>> Well, thank you for all introducing yourself. Yourselves. One of the things we'd like to know more about is, Are you currently working or in school and just tell us a little bit about that? Does anyone want to jump in? 

>> Kyle:  Yeah, I can, I work currently at Eagle Window, kind of same thing you see around all the door frames here. But it's a little bit different. We use different Wood, kinds of laminate, it's a metal that's put on there, like a sheet metal kind of thing. You make those and send them off. I've been there, yeah, two and a half years now, almost three years in September and I've really been enjoying that work and I need the money, you know, I got to keep a roof over my head. [ Laughter ] 

>> Brandi:  And I work for a company called Vista Prairie. I'm an accountant for them. So I'm responsible for paying all of our facilities. I make sure that they're paid on time. Everything with -- with accounting. That's what I do. 

>> Moises:  And I'm working right now at a hotel, the Marriott. And I'm working there as a cook. And so we get incredibly busy there, and I've been getting a lot of new skills and learning all about the field. And I also have another team member there that we've learned to communicate pretty well, you know, with writing and such. You know, we are able to understand each other and we also use the video phone once in a while to call and make sure that I understand the communication. I'm not so good at lip reading my colleagues. Sometimes that's hard and then they'll write for me. Or we have an app on my phone that we can use and we can do some texting and use this app. And also it's an app that helps to teach them sign language and I use that with my other team members, especially with signs that are specific to cooking and foods. 

>> Elise:  Moises sent a photo of himself with his chef's hat and uniform. It was too late to put on the PowerPoint but we'll have it on the website afterwards. With Moises in his uniform. It's a great picture. So, yes, next. 

>> Tessa:  I am not currently working. I am still a student in college. I am studying bio medical engineering and I'm in my second year,  so I have two years left, and I guess that's all I am doing right now is just being a student. [ Laughter ] Well, I'm just still a student. I didn't know what else to say. 

>> Ty:  Well, I'm working currently at my father's farm. But I did have another job previously. But we had some problems. I had applied for a job, and the credits from my prior college and my current college, got a little bit screwed up in the transcript and that whole process, so during the interview, I actually got eliminated, so because I -- they said that I didn't have that qualification. So I have to wait for another job for that category to show up, so I'm working on my father's commercial farm with Golden Plump. That's what I'm doing right now at least. And hopefully soon I'll be able to get a job in my specific field. I'll be excited for that. 

>> Elise:  Thank you, everyone. Now, thinking about your work and college experience, let's go back, and what was your experience like growing up? Did you have direct communication with a teacher of the deaf, hard of hearing, who signed? Did you get your education through an interpreter? So were you mainstreamed? How did that work out? Growing up. 

>> You mean, like in elementary school and middle school and high school -- okay, I get what you're talking about. I get it Elise. Okay, so from preschool on, I had an interpreter. It was always there and there was different deaf classes sometimes that we'd have as we went through school, but they had interpreters throughout in high school and everything. And there was always -- I was mainstreamed. I was mainstreamed actually and so, you know, we had a small group of us that were there so my dad used to be -- or the one man who used to be with me is back here. Yeah, yeah, there's one guy. But we just had everything ready for us, and then we had a case manager too that helped me throughout high school. And after high school, then I went Vector, that's another program that they have, and I was there for three years, and wow, everything was ready there. There was interpreters, you know, they had the case managers there. They had all kinds of things that you might need in that program. It was an amazing program. And it was great experience just doing lots of different things and getting experiences. And, you know, they gave you a lot of good advice, a lot of good help, you know, they gave great resources. So I really -- I really liked that program. It was great. 

>> Elise:  That's great to hear. Who's next? 

>> Brandi:  Well, I grew up going to a mainstream program. I was mainstreamed my whole life. I had interpreters. I had case managers. I had lots of support from staff. My parents were still kind of learning what I needed and I'm the only deaf person in my family. So we had to kind of figure all of that out. So I had interpreters in my classroom. I also had some deaf, hard of hearing classes. And -- 

>> Elise:  Did you interpreters -- same interpreter throughout that time or different? 

>> Brandi:  Well, in elementary school, it kind of depended because I went to four different schools, so I kind of hopped around a lot. When I graduated from high school, I also attended Vector, basically the same time that Kyle went through it and there was so much support there. I was exposed to -- I had a lot of different work experiences and I was able to go to the college at the same time, and so they really taught me how to set things up for college and what I needed to be successful there and how to request interpreters and how to register for classes. And just independent living. You know, how to work with a credit card and just taking math classes and everything. And that's kind of, you know, I knew that I needed that, and so it was a great experience. 

>> Elise:  That's really great to hear about the all the support services that Vector has. 

>> Ty: Well, for me, my mom and dad didn't know that I was deaf until I several months old, and -- and throughout school, I really, you know, my parents didn't know any sign language or anything, and I went with -- I had disability services, and that person kind of helped me to learn sign. And then we were in preschool, I didn't have interpreters set up at the time for me. Not like now. And then I had interpreters before and I had them through high school. I had many different interpreters, a variety of different interpreters. They weren't always the same person. They were nice to have. And then in college, it was -- well, I went to -- first to community college, Century -- Central Lakes College, and then I went to Bemidji and they didn't have a good interpreting program there and they were kind of lazy, the disability services people there at Bemidji, really, because there had been a new disability services person, and then finally in my senior year, and then I didn't have any interpreters at all for, like, two weeks. So I had told them well ahead of time that I needed that when I came to school there, but then that first day, you know, there was no interpreter, and I wondered what was going on. And so I went to the Disability Services office, and they went, “Oh, well, we'll just do it by video, by computer, we'll do that for you.” And I was like, “Are you serious?” So we tried to set it up like on the table and everything, and it just didn't work, and in the building, there wasn't good connection with the Internet. And it was awful just for those first couple of weeks having to just constantly guess what was going on in class. But then I was lucky because my teacher was also supportive and was really helpful. And so I was able to succeed and my mom ended up complaining and calling and really forcing them to get an interpreter for me finally. So I was happy to graduate and be done there. You know, the disability services at Bemidji, not so great, but, you know, I was able to finish and graduate. 

>> Moises:  Well, coming from Mexico, I was first in school there and, you know, I didn't really learn much. There weren't interpreters there. I didn't have any deaf friends or anything. And mostly it was all, you know, hearing people. I was the only person who was deaf. And my teachers of course were hearing people. They would give me papers for homework and they didn't really help me that much, so things weren't going really well for me at all, but I tried to do my best. And then my parents decided, you know, I would move in 2006, my parents adopted me then, and then I was in a different environment with sign language, and I really didn't know what was going on because, you know Mexican sign language and American Sign Language are different, and I had some knowledge like numbers and colors and that sort of thing. I don't remember as much of my Mexican sign language anymore, but I was able to improve over time with my signing. And that got better. I learned more vocabulary and I didn't have to rely on the American Sign Language as much. But then as far as interpreters, I really didn't know much about what the interpreters were for, what they did, but once I got them, I was able to learn how to use them. 

>> Elise:  So it looks like everybody has a different variety of different experiences. 

>> Tessa:  Well, my experience in school, you know, I started when I was three months old and had been in school, you know, ever since. Graduated from high school. I had great interpreters. But then upon graduation I was kind of concerned about going to North Dakota State University because what would the experience be like. I met with the disability services advisor and they were great. They picked really good interpreters. That first year. The second year I had different interpreters, but it's been really great services -- 

>>Ty: And let me add, you know, really my mom did not want the same thing to happen to her that happened to me. You have to understand, I am the older brother, so we're separated by eight years, so mom was really good. She was making sure the same thing didn't happen. And mom's a really good fighter for us. Yeah. 

>>Tessa: Yes, mom has fought for us. She never gives up. Yay for families! Families are a really important part of the process. They provide a lot of support. 

>>Elise: Great. Thank you, guys. Now, let's see. What's next? Okay, remember we talked about role models. Does anybody have any role models growing up, any deaf role models?

>> Tessa:  Well, I guess I'll go.I guess when I was eight -- or in eighth or ninth grade, I had Mrs. Thurlow and she knew I wanted to take engineering classes, so she helped me take four or five different engineering classes while I was in high school. I found out I really enjoyed those classes. And there was another teacher, Kat Lusky and he was a biotech instructor, and so really encouraged me to apply for the Perry initiative program. That program has about -- it's for girls only and it has been 5,000 applicants and only 36 people are accepted. So I got to go to Mayo Clinic and I learned about mechanical engineering and bio -- orthopedic engineering, sorry, if I don't spell that exactly right. We got to watch surgeries and be in the hospital and it was just great. We got to learn how they use pig's feet for transplants and how they fix curvature of the spine and scoliosis. And that experience really convinced me that I wanted to be a bio medical engineer. So I had a lot of support from my teachers, and -- and that's what really convinced me that I wanted to go to North Dakota State University so I could take that program. 

>> Elise:  Now were there any deaf and hard of hearing teachers? 

>> Yes. 

>> They were good role models themselves, great. 

>> Kyle:  There was amazing amount of support. You know, I can't list them all. Just wonderful. My family certainly, the whole extended family, and my school and the teachers and the staff, all of them were super supportive of me, you know, and they really were thinking about my future and really supporting me through it and telling me not to give up. You know, and then I was thinking about, like, careers and futures. Is that what you're talking about too? 

>> Elise:  Yeah, what do you think helped you? And you can talk about the future too. 

>> Kyle:  I'm thinking one of the things with a career that I want, really since I was four, I was really interested in heavy equipment, construction equipment, and I saw the bulldozers out there and the lifters, you know, kids we like to play in the dirt and the rocks, I was age four at the time. And I would just look out the windows, and I really wanted that. And that's what I wanted for a future job. And so for me that's been a goal ever since. You know, I told my family that. I told the different staff at school. And they were very supportive of me in considering doing that for my future. And hopefully as soon as I get back to school, you know, as soon as I'm able, I'll do that. 

>> Elise:  Great, great. Obviously having support and role models that you can look up to really assisted you in fleshing out your goals. Who else would like to mention things? 

>>Brandi: Well, really, I'm very similar to Kyle, I had a lot of support, a lot of role models. My parents were very supportive. I had a lot of deaf, hard of hearing teachers. To just go for my goals. And not let my deafness be a barrier. You know, and not accept any lower standards. And I had in my peer group, I had a lot of great role models too. We really encouraged each other. 

>> Elise:  Anybody else would like to all more? 

>> Ty:  In ninth grade, I joined FFA, Future Farmers of America, and there was -- there was one individual there, and I had joined a competition with, you know, the other people from the schools and we had done some fish and wild life stuff -- was a competition in that. And I just became really interested in that, and that's when I thought, I actually won first place in the state, so then we of course go onto the national and we were in Kentucky then and the whole FFA group went there, and it was amazing. It was really fascinating. And of course there was interpreters -- well, yeah, the high school interpreter, and then the FFA tried to really encourage me too to -- to think about having this as a career in fish and wildlife. And so that's when I decided to go to school in -- for aquatic marine biology, and that's where I was able to get my degree, and I was really happy I was able to make that decision. I think it's the right decision. And when I look back at myself as a kid, you know, you're kind of dumb, you know, you don't know, and school's free back then. And I just -- you don't want to be out of school. You think about, you've been in it forever and then you're in high school and you want to take a break, and I did take a break, and I did decide to go back to school and I was successful. 

>> Elise:  Great. Thanks, Ty. Did you want to mention some more? >> No, you can go on, that's fine. >> Elise:  Okay, if you guys want talk a little bit about how did you connect with V.R. in high school or did you connect with it later on? With the vocational rehabilitation? 

>> Oh, it was in high school, oh, yeah. 

>> Yeah, high school for me too. 

>> Elise:  Was it at Vector? 

>> Well, for me, I was in Investigator, and that's when we got a hold of V.R. 

>> Elise:  So a little bit of variety there. And we ask because sometimes kids aren't connected to vocational rehabilitation until later. But it's great to be able to have that contact while you're still in high school. So you really need to start young. Instead of waiting until later. Start while you're in high school. And so we really encourage the teachers and the counselors to -- counselors to help you make that recommendation. We've had some vocational rehabilitation counselors here and it's been great with them meeting and connecting with the teachers and getting to know each other. Okay, so while in high school, did you have any work experience programs? 

>> Kyle:  Yeah, I started even when I was 13, kind of under the table work. It's not a bad thing, okay? Nothing illegal. Like I worked at a store where there's -- the one of the guys my dad used to work with them, and he was kind of cleaning and needing -- doing some mowing and working in the outdoors with all the trees and trimming and all kinds of things in his area there. So that's when I was 13, and I think I did that, wow, until I was 20. Or he ended up going into a nursing home so his business wasn't anymore, but then Vector also got me some different work experiences during the summers, and so that was great. I went to this one place. It was some sort of camp. Shoot, I forget the name of it.I -- Idahoppy or something? It's in this small town, this one camp. And I did the yard maintenance work for them. So I was able to do that. And I, you know, liked what I was doing. I liked being outdoors. And that was the kind of work I tended to do, it was mostly summer then. 

>> Elise:  Thanks, Kyle. Who else? Anybody else? 

>> Brandi:  Yeah, I think I started in junior high school, like seventh or eighth grade. And I worked in a hospital as a volunteer. Doing a variety of different tasks. And then in high school, I started working for the Annie Sullivan program. As a teacher's assistant. I did that for two summers. And then I joined the Vector transition program. And I worked for -- in Navarre, in a warehouse. I made boxes and I picked the orders. I also worked for District 287. In their offices. So I was learning about office work  and I kind of, you know, how that relates to my job today,  I was just kind of getting an idea of the different jobs out there. And before I graduated, I was able to get an internship at Navarre, and in their accounts payable department. So I was able to glean some more experience from that internship and connect that with what I was learning in classes. So that's my work experience. 

>> Elise:  That's great. 

>> Moises:  Well, I tended to work in the summer too. And I worked at CCM, I don't know what it really means, all the words for it, but they do things out in the woods. They help to clean up the trails and trim them so that people don't fall over them or get stuck, and you're working in teams of people who are out on the trails and you kind of see what needs to be done in the trail work. And that was great. I loved CCM. And there was deaf and hearing and hard of hearing people all together on the crews that were working, and you do that in the summer for like three months, and you work all day and you actually -- you stay there, and it's a lot of hard work but I really enjoyed working for CCM. And that was in the summers, and then let's see. What was the other place called in —I can't think of it. It was under Vector. And there was an internship that I had working at one of the Hotels at Marriott, and they later offered me this job, and so I worked there -- I was at the college doing some cooking, and then I would also work at the hotel and get some experience cooking there so I was able to learn about cooking and then know what I needed to do out on the job site. Because when you are, like, for example, CCM was in the summers, but then the other cooking work was during the school year. 

>> Elise:  Great. Thanks for sharing. 

>> Tessa:  Now, my dad owns a commercial farming business, Gold'n Plump. I started young, and I was probably 14 or 15 when I started working for my dad and I also was raking hay in the summer. So we really didn't have a break in the summer we worked. And then when I was 16, I started washing dishes. I hated that. [ Laughter ] And so again, the raking and also working for my dad, and then after I graduated from high school, then I worked for food prep. When I was at -- when I was at North Dakota State, so I have some work experience from there. On the weekends. 

>> Ty:  Well, I started working -- boy, when I was probably 14. In the summers. You know, I applied for summer jobs, and I was helping, you know, collect, like, water for science kinds of things, science samples, water samples in the local area. And then people would send those off, and it's checking at the lab for water purification, it's part of pollution control and they're checking the pH level and all of that. And then when I was 15, well, actually I had another job. It was similar to that. I was helping my mom with the store, at the gas station. And I was doing cleaning and stocking and making sure everything was set up there. And I did that until -- until I started high school. And I worked at Cub Foods store also for a year. And that was doing bagging. And of course the stocking. And making sure that everything was filled on the shelves. And then I worked with the carts and bringing them back in. Let's see, and then after I graduated, I had two internships that were related to the DNR. And I really loved those a lot. They were so fun. So it gave me a lot of amazing experience. And it made me -- it helped me to really understand more about what those college classes were gonna be like, it made them a lot easier. So those were some of my experiences. 

>> Elise:  Working during high school is critical. And it's not always easy to find those jobs. But it seems like you guys did pretty well with family support and guidance and finding that work. That's so important during high school. So let's talk about some of the challenges that you've experienced. In work and in school. I know you talked about not having an interpreter for the first two weeks in your senior year at Bemidji State. Other challenges that you may have faced. What can you think of? 

>> Brandi:  Do you mean in looking for a job? 

>> Elise:  Oh, any kind of challenges. You've had your own challenges. I know. 

>> Brandi:  Well, okay, so I graduated from college in December 2014, and then I had eight months to find my current job. I sent out application after application, probably 80 to 100 applications. And I worked with V.R. In doing that. And I had a job counselor. Through J.M. Davis, and they worked with me and they sent out some, I sent out some. And I was turned down. Time after time again. I didn't have enough experience on the job. And I was like, well, how do I get the experience on the job without having a job? Seemed a little bit like cart before the horse, but, you know, in college, I had a college degree, but apparently I didn't have enough work experience. So I ended up getting about five calls for interviews, and I got accepted at one. Took about a week from at the first interview. They called me back three hours after my interview. I was shocked. And then about a week later, they hired me. Full time. I actually work with Elise's dad's company. Where he works, so he was a huge supporter in getting them to hire me. He said, “Oh, it won't be any problem hiring a deaf person. It'll be great.” And it's a nonprofit organization so they're really concerned with their funding and everything, but they've been very supportive, and having somebody in the company advocate within has been very helpful. They've asked me what equipment I need. And they have interpreters for my training classes. And people are taking sign language classes. So they're able to communicate with me. I also use writing to communicate with everyone. Yeah, it's been frustrating, but I managed to work through it and now I've got a full time position. 

>> Elise:  You've been very patient, though, that's good. Just to clarify, though, you do work at my father's company, but my father did not hire you. H.R. hired you. My father was -- was not aware what H.R. was doing until they let him know, afterwards, “Oh, we hired a new employee who happens to be deaf.” And then he made sure that H.R. had interpreters and everything because he did have that familiarity having a daughter who was deaf, compared to somebody who wouldn't know what to do. But my father has recently become more hard of hearing himself, so he's bought his first hearing aid this past summer. So -- and he said, “My gosh, it makes so much difference. I had been missing so many things.”  And I just looked at him and said, “Yep, I know.” So it is so important to have that understanding, you're right. Any other stories? 

>> Ty:  Well, something that was so frustrating for me was interpreting, lack of it, at Bemidji. That was so frustrating. Because too, most of the interpreters, you know, we don't have enough local folks, so that's hard. And, you know, some of the Bemidji interpreters come from -- have to come from Duluth, and that's a long ways to come and they'd have to drive back and forth every day, and that's hard. And -- and then again too, working with disability services was really challenging, because they kept trying to save money. And I got pretty pissed off at them. And I had so many hard, bad experiences with them. And again, that was, like, my sophomore year and my junior year, and I just had to keep on them all the time and just get them to do it. Just had to keep reminding them over and over again and say do your job, get me an interpreter, make it work. And then in my senior year, well, like I said, they never even told me that we didn't have an interpreter until I found out on that first day when I got there, and I was so mad. I missed so much of those classes in those first weeks. And that's so crucial. I was way behind and I had to catch up on my own. You know, the teachers were -- I was happy, they were really patient. You know, and I had a good rapport with -- good rapport with them, but I was so angry that there was no interpreter there and that the program really just wasn't good. So we had to figure out -- they had to figure out how to do it. And then finally, you know, with my sister going to school, and, you know, she thought about going to Bemidji, and -- the family got together, we had a meeting, and with the disability services folks about having interpreters, and then we thought, it would be better for her to go to the Fargo area because they do have interpreters there. And you have to really check and make sure, and even at that first meeting when they went to, you know, there was no interpreter there. It turns out, there was like a ASL student who took ASL in high school or something at that first meeting when my family came, and again, like I said, disability services was lazy, just, they weren't doing their job. And that's when we told her that she had to make sure that they had interpreters at Fargo and call and make sure. And, you know, they had said before from the office at Bemidji that they had called to try to find an interpreter in Fargo, but they really hadn't. And I was so mad that they didn't provide interpreters even at that first meeting there. And then there was some other problems too with some of the job requirements, like I said before, you know, because it was so frustrating not to have job experience. I had that. You know, my major required experience in, like, an internship or something, and I had, like, three months and another three-month experience, but it didn't meet their job requirements of extensive experience. And so if you're in college, really, the colleges ought to be telling us what the employers are looking for. We don't know. And then you end up getting a little bit stuck because you don't know that they require all of these different experiences and that you aren't gonna have them. And then you don't know what you need to succeed, but thankfully V.R. was really helpful to me. 

>> Elise:  Wow. That's tough. Thanks for sharing that experience, because that's important. For us to remember. You know, to ask for interpreters. And have to follow up. And not just bringing a high school ASL student to try and interpret. I'm not sure -- I don't have a clock. How much time do we have left? Five minutes? Ooh, boy, okay. Okay be we have two questions left. I think you remember -- the words of advice, if you could give us your words of advice. 

>> Ty:  So my best suggestion is always, you know, tell those clients, anybody who's deaf when they're in high school, that when they're gonna apply to college to make sure they really check with the program before they even apply there. And really check to see that they have everything you're gonna need, interpreters, you know, and make sure they've had some experience or history, check with deaf folks to see what their experience has been at that institution. That would be my suggestion. 

>>Elise: And I don't know if you'd like to talk about one of the best things? 

>> Brandi:  Well, I think the best thing I learned is to be assertive. And you have to advocate for yourself. And you have to keep doing it until they listen. Don't hold it in. Don't let your parents just make the decisions for you. You need to make the decisions for yourself. And give us the opportunity while we're in high school, while we're growing up, you know, tell us that we can do it. Make sure that our parents aren't doing it all for us because our parents aren't gonna be there for our whole lives. We're gonna be on our own. 

>> Elise:  Right, thank you very much. 

>> This is Kyle. Yeah, I totally agree. 

>> Elise:  Do you have any advice for working with students and counselors?Any words of advice for the audience? If you don't, that's fine. That means we're doing great. 

>> No, nothing. 

>> Elise:  We have maybe just a little bit of time for questions from the audience if that's okay. 

>> Yeah, I have one thing, though. Oh, stand up. Okay. Some advice, maybe is, you need to be assertive, you need to ask for what you want and be willing to prove it and make sure that if people are saying something, ask them to prove it to make sure and don't let them make you think you're less. You can show them. You be confident. 

>> Elise:  Great. Well, thank you to all of our panel members. And now if the audience have questions, we just have a couple minutes for questions. I'm not sure how this is gonna work. Can we get a microphone for audience members? Could you come to the front? Okay, could you come to the front? [ Laughter ] 

>> And all of you are mainstreamed like me. I grew up and I must have time with deaf people, a deaf camp, deaf friends, I needed to have that. Did you have that same experience? 

>> Oh, yeah, totally. 

>> I think some of you were mainstreamed, some of you not. Did you get that at camp?

>> Oh, yeah, I did go to deaf camp three different times. I loved it. I forget the name of it. But it's Sertoma? Yeah, it was wonderful. Such a great experience. Get involved in lots of things and I think it was about a week. But then at the end of that week, I wanted to stay. But you can't of course.

>> I loved camp too. Elise says that was great. 

>> No, I didn't have that. I was always with hearing folks. Didn't do a deaf camp thing. I was mainstreamed. You know, I had a lot of hearing friends before, but like in elementary school, there was like deaf summer school. I went to that a few times and that's where I got to meet more people. And then as I got older, you know, I found a few people here and there that I met. But then after high school, you got a driver's license and you can drive and you can just meet a lot more people that way. And I think, you know, the Internet's a great way to figure out what's going on in the community and go to those things. Yeah. 

>> Great, any more questions from the audience. This is your time. Any burning questions? 

>> Kyle:  Oh, come on, you guys, don't be shy. Come on. 

>> Elise:  Brave soul. Come up. Come on down with us, yeah. We'd like to see you. 

>> So I was wondering what are some struggles working in the summer? Like interviewing for jobs? >> You mean for jobs? >> Like, for example, a lot of students want to work, but then it's like, well, I have, I have to depend on hearing people, the interpreter to help me. What would you communicate to them? 

>> Hmm, I think that's a good question. You know, I had those internships with DNR in the summer, and yeah, it wasn't easy, but in that first internship within the first week or so, you know, we did a lot of writing at first. You know, I wish we had some -- we used like white boards to do that. And there was one person, a woman who was also working there who knew some sign language. So that was great. I was really glad that that person knew that. But, you know, I worked there the whole summer, and they became like my second family really. It was really wonderful. You know, we had -- people finger spelled a little bit, but otherwise we wrote, and we didn't have an interpreter. I really did a lot of independent kind of work so I didn't necessarily need an interpreter except like with my boss or something, but it was wonderful. I was able to work well and -- my boss trusted me. We were able to -- you know, we were out on the boats a lot, and you do that kind of work because you're out on the water. And it was a lot of independent kind of work. So you do have to be more assertive and feel confident that you can do this. It isn't easy always, but, yeah, you have to be flexible too. Yeah. 

>> Elise:  Anyone else want to add an answer? 

>> Kyle:  I can add to that. I did have a couple of different jobs. You know, one of them was a long time ago, like there was about two and a half years, there with a T.J. Maxx store, and you're back in the back room and that was in Brooklyn Park and it was really hard to communicate with them. And tried to get them to write more and they would do kind of just talking was, and I wouldn't get what they were saying, and it was pretty -- it was really frustrating with them in regard to the communication. But now where I work at, Eagle Windows, they're great, they're willing to write. They gesture in a way that lets me know. And I've taught them fingerspelling and colors, because color is really important for the work we're doing. Yeah, so trying to think. There was something else that -- I just think with them, they're willing to learn, so that makes the communication easier. Like, for example, like with work, we use a specific sign for -- for a strike and we have a sign for that, and we use a sign for hinge. We've made up this sign for hinge. We know numbers like they'll say, oh, we need three, we need it to the left, to the right, this kind of wood. So I've taught them all those different kinds of signs for what we need to do and then I can go about and do my work, and my work is somewhat independent, and if another person needs help, they can let me know that, and they know kind of simple signs. But it's made the communication so much better with them. 

>> Elise:  And I've noticed everybody kind of has talking about the attitude, that, you know, it's important to have a good attitude, willing to work with people, make those accommodations, so anyway, I thank you so much for today. We've run out of time. I know that probably there are more questions. And stomachs are starving. It's time for lunch. So thank you so much for sharing your stories and I hope that you continue having success. 

back to top