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Hundreds of students attend RIT/NTID’s annual job fair

Student in black shirt chats with representatives from Texas Instruments.

Representatives from more than 40 local and national corporations, federal agencies and nonprofit organizations met with hundreds of deaf and hard-of-hearing students—who are also prospective employees—at the 16th annual job fair, on October 19, at RIT/NTID.

“Employers had the opportunity to recruit talented deaf and hard-of-hearing students in associate and bachelor’s degree programs such as business, finance, graphic design, engineering, computing and more,” said John Macko, director of NTID’s Center on Employment.

Companies represented included Google, Yahoo, Aetna, Baxter Health Care, Central Intelligence Agency, Defense Finance and Accounting Service, Dow Chemical Co., Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, Harris Corp., Internal Revenue Service, Lockheed Martin, and the U.S. Department of Defense, among others.

“Employers continue to want highly qualified employees who bring the necessary skills and who will fit into the company culture and contribute to the company’s success,” said Macko. “Our students are well trained and can hit the ground running at companies right here in Rochester and all over the country.”

Check out the video from this year’s job fair.

Cool Co-ops: Samantha Abert

female student sitting at compuer with colorful Crayola products

Samantha Abert, a design and imaging technology major from Emmaus, Pennsylvania, is a graphic production intern at Crayloa, LLC, in Easton, Pennsylvania. She is part of a creative team that focuses on the development and use of creative tools like crayons, pencils, markers and clay. Part of her job is to research craft ideas and create artwork with Crayola products that the company could use on social media as examples of what consumers can make with those products. She also created concept sketches for colored pencils packaging.

EYF offers students something new

Two students doing a lab experiment

Deaf and hard-of-hearing students from all over the country attend Explore Your Furutre each year and enjoy hands-on experiences with various careers. This summer camp also gives participants a taste of college life and the opportunity to make new friends. On the final day of camp, a parent workshop offers families the chance to ask questions about admissions and financial aid as well as take a campus tour. More

CAD and packaging science alumna brings professional expertise to students

Jasmine Oregel, in red jacket, discusses a packaging assignment with NTID students.

Alumna Jasmine Oregel visited campus last fall to speak to students in the Engineering Studies Department. Currently working at American Honda Motor Co, Inc. in Troy, Ohio, as a Packaging Engineer II, Oregel was uniquely suited to the task as she challenged students in classes to reproduce a package design she supplied.

“I wanted them to understand the importance of workplace communication,” says Oregel of the exercise, which split students into groups by gender and gave them only a few minutes and a limited number of questions they could ask her about the assignment to complete it. 
When the exercise was done, Oregel drew attention to the way in which the female group communicated collaboratively while the male group communicated more competitively.
This exercise in communication is such an important one, Oregel says, because it is the kind of thing that will make or break an employee’s success in the workplace.
“Different ways of communicating are important for your adaptability to any task given you at work,” she adds. “If you’re not aware of the way someone is talking to you or the impact of your words, then it’s possible you might miss something that will help you complete the task more efficiently.”
As a former first-generation college student whose family is originally from Mexico, and now based in Santa Ana, California, Oregel takes her education and career-preparedness seriously, and says she was excited about the opportunity to come back to campus and pass on the lessons she has learned to current students.
As a packaging engineer at Honda, Oregel’s responsibilities vary widely and change from month to month. Generally, she works to improve the quality, cost, delivery, and environmental performance of the packaging used for all the products and service components the company produces. At times she takes on leadership roles, and often she finds herself needing to work cross-functionally with different teams, including traveling to different cities in order to meet with suppliers.
While Oregel’s B.S. in packaging science from RIT in 2013 qualified her for the position (she also earned an A.A.S. in CAD in 2008), she especially credits fulfilling her co-op requirement at RIT with furnishing her with the work experience she needed to establish her as a good candidate. 
“Do a co-op. Anywhere, doing anything,” she advises. “Do a co-op. Whatever you do, you will gain knowledge and experience from it, and with that, build yourself up and be more ready to tackle the next bigger thing.”
“Do it,” she insists, referring to any goal any student or newly minted graduate might secretly harbor. “Be patient, don’t listen to people who say no, grab opportunities to show your skills, but if it’s your passion, do it. Go for it!”
Oregel will be returning to campus April 14 and 15 to give further presentations as part of a continued effort to encourage current female students to pursue studies in STEM fields.

Willy Conley presents at book signing for “The Deaf Heart”

Willy Conley addresses crowd in Dyer Arts Center in front of wall of his photographs and next to TV screen.

Willy Conley, who graduated with a B.S. in biomedical photographic communication from RIT in 1981, presented this morning to a packed audience in NTID’s Dyer Arts Center about his novel, “The Deaf Heart,” and the ways his experience as a student at RIT/NTID and his subsequent work as a biomedical photographer in various hospitals across the United States influenced the book.

“The Deaf Heart,” Conley said, is composed of short stories that he wrote on and off over the past 25 years, as well as photographs he has taken. Many of the photographs he referred to were exhibited in the gallery as he spoke. The novel, while fictional, is based partly on Conley’s experience as well as that of several other deaf biomedical photographer friends of Conley’s. The story follows a deaf photography intern, Max, as he pursues certification at a hospital in Galveston, Texas. Also interspersed in the novel are letters Max writes home to his parents, many of which also make reference to Max’s time as a photography student at RIT/NTID, and excerpts from a fictional photo laboratory manual from Max’s internship site.

Conley’s presentation to the audience also included anecdotes from his photography career, tips for current students (“Keep in touch with the friends you make here,” Conley quipped at one point. “You never know where they’ll end up and if they’ll become a great connection to a career opportunity for you.”) as well as words of homage for the late Dr. Robert Panara, who taught Conley in a class about deaf characters in literature as an RIT student, and RIT’s literary magazine “Symposium,” which gave Conley his first publication credit in 1981. Conley then fielded questions, many of which were about publishing creative work, either as a writer or as a photographer.

“Don’t ever give up,” he advised in partial response to one of the questions. “It can feel frustrating, and you may need to develop a thick skin, but keep going and keep practicing.”

Conley signed books for the remainder of the event. He will also be signing books at tomorrow’s opening reception for an exhibit 4-6 p.m. in Dyer Arts Center entitled “The Deaf Heart: a Forty Year Photographic Retrospective.” The exhibit will remain open March 11-April 22, 2016.

See also our post from last fall announcing the novel’s debut: Alumnus Publishes Debut Novel.

NTID alumna plays male lead in “Tribes” after nationwide search

Cast of Tribes in Riot Act's production sits around a dinner table.

Congratulations to RIT/NTID alumna Michelle Schaefer, who is playing the lead role of “Billy” in a production of TRIBES in Jackson Hole, Wyoming!

Michelle was cast in the role in Riot Act’s production of Nina Raines’ award-winning play after director Macey Mott expanded her search nationwide in an effort to recruit a deaf actor. The play runs Thursday through Saturday. For more information, see this piece published at Creative Peaks.

RIT/NTID Alumni Featured in Seattle Theater Production

George (played by alumnus Ryan Schlecht), right, in

RIT/NTID alumni Ryan Schlecht and Elizabeth Ayers Gibson recently wrapped up an Azeotrope production called “Sound.”

Written by award-winning screenwriter Don Nguyen and co-directed by Howie Seago and Desdemona Chiang, the play opened on September 11 and completely sold out its opening weekend at ACT theater in downtown Seattle.

Sound is a bilingual play that focuses on Deaf culture and the debate over cochlear implants. Ryan played fisherman father George, and Elizabeth played Mabel, Alexander Graham Bell’s wife. 

This production was significant, says Elizabeth, because it was the first time deaf people were directly involved in an ACT theater production.

Technology was also incorporated into the production, with subtitling provided on three sides of the stage for non-signed scenes. At least one night featured a fully-subtitled performance for deaf and hard-of-hearing non-signers and deaf-blind patrons.

More information about the production can be found here.