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Wena' Knaup: Why I Chose to Become an Interpreter for the Deaf

SFCC Student Wena' Knaup

I honestly never gave any thought to becoming an interpreter for the deaf until after attending a church service in Montana in 2005. I was intrigued and awe-struck by the beauty and feeling projected by the sign language interpreters. This experience sounded a bell inside me and inspired me to seek to learn more about American Sign Language and the deaf community. I found that, like any other diverse group of people, the deaf are struggling to be accepted for who they are. In addition, here in the Western regions there is a shortage of interpreters from diverse backgrounds. This means that those deaf and/or blind individuals of diverse backgrounds are lacking the services of someone who also has a greater understanding of their ethnic culture and its nuances. Along with providing a communication conduit by which deaf and/or blind individuals may achieve their goals, enhance their abilities, and enjoy the same freedoms I do, I hope to bring about this type of understanding and inspire others of diverse backgrounds to do the same.

My educational and career goals are:

  • To complete this program with a high GPA and receive my A.A.S.
  • To become highly proficient in American Sign Language (ASL) and a number of its various dialects, Signed Exact English II (S.E.E. 2), Cued Speech, Pantomime, and Voicing
  • To become a qualified and certified Interpreter for the Deaf
  • To work in educational, religious, sports, theatrical, and musical settings
  • To attend Deaf Missions' Extension Program, an intensive, 6-month college-level course for those seeking to minister to the deaf
  • To minister among the deaf both here and abroad, and
  • To eventually get a B.A. in Deaf Interpreting

About Wena'

Wena' is an inspiring individual who enriches the campus culture of SFCC. She chose our campus after consulting the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf and the National Alliance of Black Interpreters and discovered SFCC was the only institution in Spokane offering Interpreter Training.

When asked what SFCC could change to better serve her needs, Wena's response was to increase the diverse backgrounds of instructors, presenters and practicum environments. More training and experience is needed for interpreters to better understand cultural nuances for the deaf clients they represent.

After completing her program here, Wena' intends to enroll in the 6-month, resident program of Deaf Missions Extension Program in Council Bluffs, Iowa. This will empower Wena' to take her ministry to the deaf community.

When Wena' is not hard at work studying, she loves to watch her son's football games, enjoys date nights with her husband, and singing and fellowshipping with Brothers and Sisters in Christ, the choir at Bethel AME church.

Thank you, Wena', for joining the SFCC family!

Ryan Breithaupt: 2014 SFCC TACTC Nominee

The TACTC Transforming Lives award is presented annually by Washington's Trustees Association of Community and Technical Colleges.

TACTC Transforming Lives Award winner

Ryan Breithaupt graduated from SFCC in 2013 from the SFCC Education Paraprofessional - Special Education program. Nominated for a 2014 Transforming Lives Award, Ryan now works with autistic and disabled adults at West Central Community Center.

His educational journey at SFCC was not easy. In 1989, a freak electrical accident, which involved a 30-foot fall, left Ryan with significant long-term physical and cognitive issues, including memory problems, bouts of depression and symptoms similar to a bipolar disorder.

At 40 years of age, he returned to school. One of his instructors, Sandy Ross, writes, "Academically, Ryan climbed mountains when others were climbing hills." But he persevered, earning a 4.0 his last quarter at SFCC.

Ryan says, "Without SFCC, I would probably never be working with the disabled, which I am sure is my true calling and destiny. ... If it were possible to earn a master's degree at SFCC, I would be there earning one!"

Ryan was honored, along with other Transforming Lives Award nominees from Washington community and technical colleges, Sunday, Jan. 19, in Olympia.

Armando Garcia Wins 2016 Transforming Lives Award

Armando Garcia, Transforming Lives Award Winner

Spokane Falls Community College student Armando Garcia was honored with a Transforming Lives Award from the Washington State Association of College Trustees (ACT) on Jan. 24 in Olympia. Only five students, out of 388,000 students across 34 colleges, are awarded each year.

Coordinated through ACT, the fifth annual Transforming Lives Awards recognize current or former students who have had their lives transformed by attending a community or technical college. The honor also comes with a $500 award.

Garcia is in his second year at SFCC. The son of migrant farmworkers, he came to this country at the age of five. Due to an infection during infancy, his right leg was not fully developed. His parents came to the United States from Mexico in search of better medical care for their son.

He began receiving care from Shriner's Hospital for Children in Spokane, though the orthopedic shoe he wore opened him up to bullying in school. He also had a new language to learn. "Through working hard to learn English and enduring the simple but strenuous challenge of climbing the stairs in school every day, I fought to break the cycle of poverty," said Garcia.

Garcia is pursuing his associate's degree at SFCC with a plan to transfer to earn a bachelor's degree in political science. He spent last summer in Washington, D.C. as part of the National Migrant and Seasonal Head Start's internship program where he worked for Farmworker Justice.

"Mr. Garcia epitomizes the TACTC Transforming Lives Award. He has overcome a great deal to pursue his education and is extremely motivated and determined to become an advocate in his community," said Mike Wilson, chairman of the Community Colleges of Spokane Board of Trustees.