Four College of Southern Nevada students will flex their fingers and gain real-world experience on Monday as they fingerspell the names of each CSN graduate during the 47th annual Commencement Ceremony at the Thomas & Mack Center.
It’s the first time students in CSN’s deaf studies program have participated in the commencement ceremony. Certified interpreters are always on stage during the ceremony, but this year, the students will provide the interpreters a break during one of the most demanding portions of the ceremony.
“It’s a very tedious, time-consuming and difficult part of the ceremony,” said Caroline Bass, lead faculty for the program. “This partnership worked out beautifully for us. For many of our students, this is the first time they are doing anything like this.”
CSN was the first college in the state to provide a program for sign language interpreters back in 2002, offering an associate degree in deaf studies and an associate degree in interpreter preparation. This fall, CSN launched a bachelor’s degree in deaf studies with an emphasis in American Sign Language/English Interpreting to fit with changing national certification standards.
To obtain national interpreter certification, interpreters for the deaf are required to obtain a bachelor’s degree prior to qualifying for testing. There are fewer than 100 nationally certified interpreters in Nevada to serve more than 39,000 people with hearing disabilities.
Participating in commencement was a volunteer opportunity 24-year-old Harley Hollis couldn’t pass up. Hollis, who has already completed an associate degree and is working on her bachelor’s degree, also works for CSN as an administrative assistant in the Disability Resource Center. She originally planned to study business at CSN.
“My second semester, I took an ASL class and I was hooked,” she said. “This has changed my life, I became so much more than I dreamed of. It just shaped my life.”
Hollis will be joined on stage by Docian Molden, Abigail Russo and Crystal Perry, taking turns to spell out each student’s name as he or she walks across the stage.
To learn more about CSN’s deaf studies program, visit: https://www.csn.edu/programs/deaf-studies