18 | GREENVILLE JOURNAL | 10.06.2017 GREENVILLEJOURNAL.COM
AN UNLIKELY CELEBRITY Jason Hurdich’s expressive signing turned him into a star. Now he’s returning to teaching WORDS BY JOSHUA S. KELLY PHOTOS BY WILL CROOKS
Like most, Clemson University special education major Tori Berry first saw Jason Hurdich during TV coverage of Hurricane Matthew in 2016. He was thenGov. Nikki Haley’s American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter during her press conferences, and his expressive and enthusiastic signing captured the nation’s attention. “The way he signed was a way that I had never seen before; it was just very charismatic,” Berry recalls. “I thought, ‘I will probably never be that good, but it would be really nice to know what is going on.’” At the time, however, she had no idea that she would be able to learn ASL directly from the unexpected celebrity. When Clemson announced Hurdich’s hiring with a video over the summer, Berry excitedly asked her roommate, Katie Wimberly, another ASL student, “Is there any way he is really going to be our professor?!” When they learned that Hurdich had been assigned to teach their section, they were ecstatic. “The person that inspired me to learn the language was now going to be teaching me that language,” Berry said. “It’s really interesting how it fell into place.” Wimberly became interested in ASL about eight years ago, when she noticed that the family sitting behind her at football games would sign the national anthem for their son. She says, “I wanted to learn ever since then.” Both Berry and Wimberly want to go into speech pathology, and being able to communicate with members of the deaf community is not only a useful professional skill but also a way to communicate with people they weren’t able to before.
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