Local Students Graduate from MA’s First Public Bachelor’s Degree in ASL Interpreting
First Class Graduates from ASL Interpreting Bachelor’s Offered on NECC’s Haverhill Campus
Seven local students recently were in the first class to graduate from Massachusetts only public bachelor’s degree program in American Sign Language-English Interpreting.
All graduates of Northern Essex Community College’s Associate Degree Program in Deaf Studies, these students took Framingham State University courses, offered on Northern Essex’s Haverhill Campus and online, as part of a degree-completion partnership between the two colleges.
The seven earned a degree in American Sign Language-English Interpreting at Framingham State University’s Commencement in May and are now preparing to take the state-level Massachusetts Interpreter Screening offered through the Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. When they pass, they will be eligible for entry-level interpreting work. Ultimately, graduates will seek national certification from the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, which will open up even more career opportunities.
“The job market for certified interpreters is great,” said Luce Aubry, coordinator of Northern Essex’s Deaf Studies Program and assistant professor, World Languages Department, FSU. “They will find jobs interpreting for Deaf individuals in schools, courts, offices, and hospitals.”
Samantha Smith of Rowley, MA was one of the seven graduates. After graduating from high school in 2005, she took college classes but decided to take a break because she couldn’t figure out what she wanted to focus on.
While working as a bank teller, she rediscovered her interest in deaf studies, which had been kindled during her childhood by her best friend’s mother who was an ASL interpreter.
She’s now looking for a job that will keep her involved with the Deaf community and allow her to maintain her ASL skills while she prepares for the first part of the Massachusetts state screening for interpreters in the fall.
Smith graduated with an Associate Degree in Deaf Studies from Northern Essex in 2013 and with her bachelor’s from Framingham State in May.
Smith is no longer uncertain about the direction of her future. “I can honestly say these past few years have been incredibly fulfilling and I am on the path I should be on, one that I love.”
NECC and FSU launched the partnership two years ago with the goal of creating an affordable bachelor’s degree program that would prepare graduates for careers in ASL interpreting. Students complete their associate degree at NECC in Deaf Studies: Interpreting Transfer and then complete their junior and senior years taking FSU courses on NECC’s Haverhill Campus.
This group of seven students is the first class to graduate from the new program and next spring it is expected that there will be five additional graduates.
“Students interested in a career as an interpreter for the Deaf should enjoy learning languages, studying different cultures, and working with people,” according to Aubry.
For more information on NECC’s Deaf Studies programs, visit the NECC website (necc.mass.edu) or contact enrollment services at 978 556-3700.
For more information on FSU’s American Sign Language-English interpreting bachelor’s degree, visit www.framingham.edu or contact the Admissions Office at 508-626-4500.