FSU Confers State’s First Public Bachelor’s Degrees in American Sign Language to Seven Students

FSU Confers State’s First Public Bachelor’s Degrees in American Sign Language to Seven Students

Jun 10, 2015

Seven local students recently became the first class to graduate from the Commonwealth’s only public bachelor’s degree program in American Sign Language-English Interpreting.

All past graduates of Northern Essex Community College’s Associate Degree Program in Deaf Studies, the students took Framingham State University courses to complete their bachelor’s degree. The courses are offered on Northern Essex’s Haverhill Campus and online, as part of a degree-completion partnership between the two colleges.

The students received their degrees 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 Heighes of Littleton, MA, was one of the seven graduates. After graduating from high school, Heighes attended college, majoring in psychology. When she met a Deaf person who used American Sign Language, she became fascinated with the language, and decided to change her field of study, enrolling at Northern Essex.

Heighes graduated from Northern Essex in 2013 with an Associate Degree in Deaf Studies and she earned her bachelor’s from Framingham State last month. Her goal is to become a certified ASL interpreter.

“I personally grew so much through the program,” says Heighes. “Our instructors were wonderful and they really cared about our success.”

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.

“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 FSU’s American Sign Language-English interpreting bachelor’s degree, visit www.framingham.edu or contact the Admissions Office at 508-626-4500.

Graduates include:

Amesbury, MA

Jacqueline Purvinis

Billerica, MA

Michelle Lasa

Haverhill, MA

Dana Haggar

Littleton, MA

Samantha Heighes

Rockland, MA

Elden Bollinger

Rowley, MA

Samantha Smith

Westford, MA

Linda Wyke

About Framingham State University

Framingham State University was founded in 1839 as the nation’s first public university for the education of teachers. Since that time, it has evolved into a vibrant, comprehensive liberal arts institution offering small, personalized classes on a beautiful New England campus. Today, the University enrolls more than 6,000 students with 58 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in the arts, humanities, sciences, social sciences and professional fields. As a State College and University (SCU), Framingham State prides itself on quality academic programs, affordability, and commitment to access for all qualified students.