The Class of 2015
Meet the 15 1
Luis Figueroa Montanez
Kylei Brooks Tech tips: Click on individual photos on this page to jump directly to corresponding pages, where you can click on italicized words to learn more about the many opportunities Gallaudet offers its students!
A time of celebration On May 15, members of Gallaudet’s Class of 2015 walked across the stage and received their diplomas. These newest inductees into the Gallaudet University Alumni Association come from across the United States and around the world, representing diverse cultures and groups. They completed bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs in every major field of study Gallaudet offers in the humanities and arts, science and technology, business, and human services. In their years at Gallaudet, they were in various student organizations, joined fraternities and sororities, played sports, and worked and interned on and off campus. They are pursuing careers in the public and private sector, helping others and contributing to various fields.
They are leaders, advocates, and innovators.
your gifts to Gallaudet made their success possible. The Gallaudet Fund is the top choice for donors who want to enhance academics and extracurricular activities for all students. When you support scholarships, you make an immediate difference in students’ lives. Thank you for investing in our students’ success! Please turn the page to meet 15 recent graduates who appreciate all that alumni and friends of Gallaudet have done to make the University the perfect place for them to get an education that leads to successful lives and careers.
Timothy Yu Fremont, California
My best memory of Gallaudet will always be the time I competed in the Google Games. My team representing Gallaudet won first place! It was a great experience for me to be able to apply my coding and programming skills to demonstrate that deaf students are capable of great things. It also was the greatest feeling to be able to show there are talented deaf professionals, especially in coding fields. Being in the Honors Program was also very positive and enabled me to explore my capstone project in different ways. Your investment in students like me helps us take full advantage of all the resources and opportunities Gallaudet offers.”
B.A. Information Technology, Mathematics
imothy Yu, ’15, completed a rigorous course of study and is graduating with University Honors and dual bachelor’s degrees in information technology and mathematics. He plans to pursue a career in the information technology field and enter a graduate program in computer science. As part of the Honors Program, Timothy completed a capstone project, “Software Application and Mobile Optimization,” in which he researched using Oracle’s hybrid
mobile framework to optimize Bison, Gallaudet’s student information system, for Android and iOS devices. He presented his project at the annual University Honors poster event May 7. “The capstone allowed me to work closely with the Honors Program director to approach my project from different angles. Developing my presentation was a great learning opportunity for converting technical terms to fit a general audience,” he said.
Gallaudet provided me with opportunities I didn’t know existed. Working for The Buff & Blue student newspaper as a student writer for four years and as Editor-in-Chief was a wonderful experience and furthered my interest in a career in publishing. I also enjoyed being in the Honors Program because I was able to meet like-minded people who challenged me to go a step further and stretch my brain. I am forever grateful. You provided me with opportunities to learn in a rich environment, which allowed me to learn more about myself.”
B.A. English, Communication Studies
ayla Head, ’15, graduated with a double major in English and communication studies, with University Honors. She will enter graduate school for a master’s in theology and plans to pursue a career in publishing. As part of her experience with the Honors Program, she presented her capstone project, “Radiate: A Faith-Based Magazine for College-Age Christian Women.” The project “enabled me to do a large-scale project of what I want to do as a career,” Kayla said.
In her four years at Gallaudet, Kayla also wrote for The Buff & Blue student newspaper, then became assistant copy editor, news editor, and ultimately Editor-in-Chief, a journey she calls “an experience of a lifetime.” She was instrumental in the newspaper’s development of a modern product in both web and print formats. Kayla also was a communications intern for Brentwood Baptist Church and Camp SummerSign.
Chaminda Hewapathirana Kuliyapitiya, Sri Lanka
Gallaudet has such a beautiful and friendly community and I will always remember my years here as full of meeting new people and learning about deaf culture and deaf education. I can’t explain my gratitude for your support. If I did not receive scholarships, I would be in a difficult situation, with a family and two children to support on one income. How could I pay all our expenses? I could have lost my ability to stay in school. I remember the day I received one of my awards. I cried.”
B.A. Early Childhood Education
haminda Hewapathirana, ‘15, completed a self-directed major in early childhood education. He truly appreciates the support services Gallaudet provided to help him learn American Sign Language and English so he could access various elements of the Gallaudet experience, in and out of the classroom, he said. Chaminda is very passionate about deaf education and supporting deaf people in third-world countries. Now that he has
completed his bachelor’s Chaminda plans to work with children and pursue a master’s degree in education. He then wants to return to his native Sri Lanka to fulfill his dreams of improving early childhood deaf education and helping other deaf Sri Lankans earn their education. “It is important to support students who face challenges and help them stay motivated,” he said, “especially through scholarship support.”
Britny Latham Cleveland, Tennessee
Before I came to Gallaudet, I didn’t know American Sign Language or anything about deaf culture. Here, I realized what I was missing. Now, I know who I am and feel like a part of the deaf community. Your support helped me find myself, get through college, and earn my degree. Thank you.”
ritny Latham, ‘15, graduated with a B.A. in biology and is working as a medical assistant at a primary care clinic with the goal of becoming a registered nurse. She is a certified Phlebotomy Technician and has also earned certificates in Basic Life Support and CPR. At Gallaudet, Britny was a guard on the women’s basketball team that, with Coach Kevin Cook’s guidance, won 20 straight games and the co-conference championship
as well as entered the NCAA playoffs. Britny says her favorite classes at Gallaudet were microbiology and pharmacology because they were directly related to her interest in health and helped prepare her for a career in the field. Britny is very grateful to donors who helped fund her education at Gallaudet through her Leadership Scholarship. “Knowing I would get financial aid helped me stay in school here,” she says.
Andrea Vigil Salt Lake City, Utah
As a first-generation college student, the transition to campus was challenging. But Gallaudet staff and faculty were always supportive of my academic needs and provided mentoring and resources to help me succeed. Now, I am the first in my family to complete college. I transferred to Gallaudet from another school because of financial aid. If not for donors like you, I would not have been able to stay in school.”
B.A. Communication Studies
ndrea Vigil, ’15, graduated with a B.A. in communication studies and a minor in digital media and plans to develop a career in the communications field. She interned as a production coordinator with the Gallaudet Dance Company, designing sets. Andrea said the opportunities she had at Gallaudet allowed her to grow as a person and to discover herself. Her communications courses also helped her keep an open mind and learn from people who come from diverse
backgrounds, she said. “I also had great personal and professional networking opportunities through talking with people who work in the communications field. It helped me expand my knowledge about the field and jobs I am interested in as well as become more assertive about asking questions,” Andrea said. Another part of the Gallaudet experience she enjoyed was exploring Washington, D.C., with the new friends she made on campus.
Nicole Strom Riverside, California
I feel blessed to get my education here so that now I can help other deaf people by counseling them through their struggles. Financing an education can be stressful. I was blessed to have a worry-free experience thanks to my President’s Honors Scholarship. I hope you will continue giving to other students and that you realize the impact you have on students by giving them the opportunity to expand their horizons.”
icole Strom, ’15, has wrapped up her degree in psychology and will continue her education by pursuing a master’s degree in school psychology. “Since I was young, I’ve been fascinated with how we can provide support for others and why we act the way we do. Gallaudet helped me express my passion for psychology in more concise ways, and the psychology department has terrific professors who encouraged us to experience
the field through jobs and internships that illuminated different paths for us to take in life,” she said. She credits Gallaudet with shaping her into the person she is today by teaching her that “choices are everything, and whatever choices you make, make them with your heart. People constantly bring their stories that can shape our perspectives. I’ve learned much that I needed to know, but also that I have so much more to learn from others.”
Jason Almendarez Austin, Texas
My biology studies were a great hands-on experience with culturing bacteria and witnessing the effect of various chemicals and pathogens on my cultures. It gave me a deeper understanding of living organisms, how they work, and what they require to survive. That helped prepare me for a career in medicine. Financial aid through scholarships allowed me to make the decision to come to Gallaudet. Money comes and goes, but opportunities last forever. By giving, you give people the opportunity to make something of themselves.”
ason Almendarez, ’15, plans to use his bachelor’s in biology to work in a medical or physical therapy office and then attend medical school so he can become a physical therapist. Jason, who lost his hearing at age 12, transferred to Gallaudet still learning American Sign Language. “All the professors and staff were always there for me to make sure I understood, both in and out of class. Gaining a language helped me understand the world more fully,
and I found my identity here,” Jason said. “During New Student Orientation, everyone was so friendly, welcoming, and accepting. I felt they truly wanted to get to know me. I developed a bond with my classmates that stayed with me for the next four years,” he said. Jason says he also fondly remembers Homecoming and Unityfest celebrations, which allowed him to see and experience different cultures.
Lucy Upah Benue, Nigeria
I love Gallaudet as a whole. I love how everyone here communicates so easily, and I loved all my classes. Gallaudet taught me to view everything with the highest expectations. It was my dream to come to Gallaudet, and I have learned so many skills and been able to network here. Now I can return to Africa to continue my life’s work for deaf people, especially deaf women, in Nigeria. Thank you so much. May your basket continue to be full because you helped us.”
M.A. Public Administration
ucy Upah, ’15, relocated from Nigeria to earn a master’s in public administration. Before coming to Gallaudet, she earned her bachelor’s degree at the University of Jos, Nigeria, and was the English Speaking Regional Coordinator for the World Federation of the Deaf ’s Human Rights and Capacity Building Training Project in the Western and Central African Region. However, her lifelong dream to get “the Gallaudet experience” led her to America.
Lucy has graduated without debt, she said, and she appreciates the support of donors that enabled that to happen. Because she did not have to borrow money, she was able to earn her degree in a timely manner and resume her advocacy work. Lucy now plans to return to Africa to continue advocating for policies and programs to bring equal rights and access for deaf and hard of hearing people in the developing world.
Ethan Kramer Frederick, Maryland
Here at Gallaudet, I benefited from direct communication access to professors and classmates. Being able to see different discussions going on at the same time helped expand my understanding of various topics. Scholarships took some financial burden off my shoulders and I was able to focus on my studies and internships. I am so grateful to Gallaudet University — and you donors — for everything!”
B.A. Business Administration
than Kramer, ’15, graduated with a degree in business administration and plans to attend graduate school for a master’s in business. His junior year, Ethan placed first in an investment competition. Ethan also was a member of the Gallaudet swimming and diving team and completed an internship in the student financial services office. “My internship, which was my first job, helped me develop excellent customer service
skills, which I’ll be able to use in my career,” Ethan said. Freshman year was by far his favorite memory, Ethan said. It was the beginning of his journey of discovery in “a vibrant community” that shaped him into the person he is today. “Gallaudet shaped me into the person I am today in many different ways. I was able to experiment and try new things, which helped me learn more about myself,” he said.
Sarah McMillen Altamont, New York
As a DeafBlind student at Gallaudet, with a pro-tactile environment on campus and more people exposed to it, my educational experience improved. My confidence increased, I achieved personal and academic growth, and I became a stronger woman. I donated to Gallaudet myself through the $15 for ’15 challenge because I believe in supporting future students. Gallaudet gave to me, so I wanted to give back.”
M.A. Deaf Studies
arah McMillen, ’15, has earned a master’s degree in deaf studies and plans to develop a career as a consultant and advocate to educate people about pro-tactile. While at Gallaudet, she worked for Residence Life, the library, Gallaudet Interpreting Services, and as a teaching assistant in the Deaf Studies Department. She also was involved with the Graduate Student Association, serving as treasurer. She credits the Office of Diversity and
Equity for Students with helping expand awareness across campus of pro-tactile and the manners and norms that accompany it. “Pro-tactile space had a big impact on my college experience and professional development,” Sarah said. “Deaf people are visual, but for DeafBlind people, pro-tactile is about a way of life that is more touchoriented. The pro-tactile environment here enabled me to develop connections and relationships, enhancing my experience.”
Camillia Lynch Russellville, Arkansas
What I will remember most about Gallaudet are the friendships I gained and the positive reinforcement I received of my desire to succeed in whatever I choose to do. Thank you for your contributions, which made me possible to gain experience, skills, and knowledge through my education here so I can become more marketable.”
B.A. Sociology with concentration in Criminology
amillia Lynch, ’15, has graduated with a bachelor’s degree in sociology, with a concentration in criminology. She recently received the Sociology Outstanding Student Award, and during her time at Gallaudet, she was inducted into the Alpha Kappa Delta International Sociology Honor Society. Camillia said she particularly enjoyed her Introduction to Counseling and Abnormal Psychology courses, which helped prepare her for graduate school in counseling.
She also completed an internship with the Deaf Services unit within the South Carolina Department of Mental Health. Camillia has been accepted to a master’s program in mental health counseling, focusing on deaf clients, and her goal is to find a job at a social services or mental health agency. “Gallaudet shaped me to be independent, step out and explore, work hard, and develop my interests, which led to my choice of career,” Camillia says.
Umar Tukur Adamawa, Nigeria
Gallaudet’s Keeping The Promise program greatly helped me understand the world and how to critically analyze things so I can become a leader and help change the world. It’s important for donors to understand that their gifts truly help, especially students from developing countries who have passion but no money. A little gift can change the world. “
M.A. Deaf Education
mar Tukur, ’15, has earned a master’s degree in deaf education and plans to return to Nigeria to work on improving education for deaf and hard of hearing children and train teachers of the deaf. While at Gallaudet, Umar was involved with Keeping The Promise, a program that supports the inclusion of underrepresented groups across campus. “Through KTP, I found my identity as a deaf black man and benefited from the
diverse environment on campus,” Umar said. “The friends I made through that program came to feel like family.” Umar eventually plans to return to Gallaudet and earn his Ph.D. in education to support his goal of helping people in developing countries realize that deaf people can do anything.
Luis Figueroa Montanez Elkridge, Maryland
My favorite course at Gallaudet was a class on mobile app development. It gave me a deeper knowledge of how to use coding to make a better app that is accessible to a wide range of people. That experience has helped me prepare for a bright future as I seek a job in the information technology field. Your gifts helped me a lot through scholarships so I could focus on my studies and not worry about the future. Thank you for your contributions to my education!”
B.S. Information Technology
uis Alberto Figueroa Montanez, ’15, has completed a bachelor’s in information technology and is working on developing a career in the IT field. Luis also hopes to return to Gallaudet for a second bachelor’s degree, this time in chemistry, to supplement his studies in information technology. During his time at Gallaudet, Luis worked as a web developer for the Green Grow organization. He further developed his
knowledge and skills through an internship with Gallaudet Interpreting Services. Luis said some of his fondest memories of Gallaudet will always include studying with his friends — and having fun with them. He also said meeting new people and experiencing various activities helped increase his confidence and prepare him for a career after college.
Kali Frowick Norfolk, Nebraska
Coming from the mainstream, the inclusivity and accessibility here on campus helped me develop confidence in myself and gain more knowledge about my major and career options. Through my capstone course, I participated in the Deaf Story Corps and learned to think more critically about new topics. I would not have had those opportunities if not for scholarships. Thank you for helping me get through college and for helping students pursue their goals. It means a lot to me.”
B.A. Physical Education and Recreation
ali Frowick, ’15, has earned a bachelor’s degree in Physical Education & Recreation and plans to go to graduate school to become an occupational therapist or physical therapy assistant. Kali played for the Bison women’s volleyball team. Her experience included becoming co-captain and being named the North Eastern Athletic Conference player of the Year. These experiences are something she will always remember, she said.
Through her General Studies capstone course, Kali was part of a Deaf Story Corps team that gathered stories from deaf and hard of hearing people. She said the project opened her mind “through meeting and filming different people and their stories from a documentary approach.” Kali’s internship with the after-school programs at Kendall Demonstration Elementary School helped her identify what she wants to do in her career, she said.
Kylei Brooks Olathe, Kansas
As a Gallaudet student, my internship as an educational advocate at the National Association of the Deaf allowed me to do a lot of research, really think about what I wanted to do career-wise, gain experience in real-world settings, and feel like I was part of something important. We need more deaf educators and deaf leaders. Giving to Gallaudet helps support students’ development and helps them stay in school and develop their potential to become leaders.”
ylei Brooks, ’15, has graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Educational advocacy is one of her passions, particularly after she did an internship at the National Association of the Deaf that allowed her to explore her interests. Kylei is returning to her home state to begin a career focusing on special education. She also plans to earn a master’s degree in special education or deaf education. Kylei says her favorite memories of
Gallaudet include becoming captain of the cheerleading squad and being chosen to perform the traditional Bison Song, which she says was a big honor. “At Gallaudet, I also was able to become more involved in class discussions and to show my leadership skills, contribute to discussions, and share my thoughts with more confidence. I discovered potential in myself I didn’t know I had,” she says.
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