Thousands expected to celebrate at RIT/NTID’s 50th anniversary reunion

NTID 50th Anniversary Reunion in brown with orange graphics representing buildings on campus.

More than 3,000 alumni from Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf are expected to visit campus for a reunion June 28 –July 1 to celebrate the college’s 50th anniversary.

The world’s first and largest technological college for deaf and hard-of-hearing students will kick off a year-long celebration of its 50-year history, which coincides with RIT’s move to the Henrietta, New York, campus.

The festivities will begin with an alumni golf tournament at Mill Creek Golf Club Thursday, June 28, with an opening ceremony that evening, hosted by alumnus and actor CJ Jones. Jones recently starred in the motion picture “Baby Driver” and will be featured in the upcoming James Cameron sequel, “Avatar 2.”

Other events and activities during the reunion weekend include a barbeque dinner, mini-reunions for current and former members of numerous clubs and organizations, including fraternities and sororities, and entertainment by popular alumni such as hip-hop artist Sean Forbes and actors Amber Zion, Kris Pumphrey and Daniel Durant, who most recently starred on Broadway in the revival of “Spring Awakening.”  

In addition to alumni from the college’s ‘pioneer’ class and founding faculty, four of RIT/NTID’s past leaders will be in attendance: founding director D. Robert Frisina; Robert Davila, the college’s first deaf leader; James J. DeCaro; and T. Alan Hurwitz. The college’s current leader, Gerard Buckley, is the first alumnus to lead the institution, which boasts more than 8,000 graduates.

The college’s Dyer Arts Center will host an exhibition “50 Artists, 50 Years” featuring works by 50 RIT/NTID alumni artists. The center will also host the unveiling of a three-paneled mural, known as a triptych, entitled “Together” created by deaf artist Susan Dupor and commissioned for the 50th anniversary.  “Together” portrays the flourishing life and history of the National Technical Institute of the Deaf over 50 years.

RIT/NTID Performing Arts and MSM Productions, Ltd. will reprise the popular “The Wonderful World of Oz” in the college’s Panara Theatre for four special performances with proceeds to benefit the theater program. Tickets can be purchased through the RIT Box Office.

Founded by an act of Congress in 1965, with the first class enrolled in 1968, NTID represents the first concerted effort to educate large numbers of deaf students within a college campus planned principally for hearing students. Among RIT's 18,000 full- and part-time students are nearly 1,100 deaf students from the United States and other countries.

Since its founding, alumni have gone on to work and leadership positions in all areas of business, industry, government and non-profit sectors.

“We are thrilled that so many alumni from near and far will be joining us to celebrate 50 years of RIT/NTID,” Buckley said. “We have a lot of great activities planned, but this reunion is really about old friends reminiscing and reflecting on how far we’ve come in just 50 short years.”

To commemorate the milestone, a book, “A Shining Beacon: Fifty Years of the National Technical Institute for the Deaf,” edited by RIT/NTID alumnus James K. McCarthy, has been published by RIT Press.

Editor’s note: Media is invited to attend RIT/NTID’s 50th Anniversary Reunion Opening Ceremony 6 p.m. Thursday, June 28, in the Gene Polisseni Center on the RIT campus.

Additional photos and video clips of RIT/NTID’s 50th Anniversary Reunion weekend can be made available to members of the media by contacting susan.murad@rit.edu.

 

 

RIT/NTID travels to California to offer summer program for deaf teens

Brown background with green leaves and roots, and DATS in white at the bottom.

Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf is offering a free one-week summer program for college-bound deaf and hard-of-hearing students from the Central Valley California area to learn more about various careers related to agriculture and environmental science. This marks the first time RIT/NTID will offer a program on the West Coast.

Discovering Agriculture through STEM™, or DATS™, will run June 24-29 at Fresno State University for deaf and hard-of-hearing students entering grades 10, 11 and 12 in fall 2018.

Taught by deaf professors from RIT/NTID, the first and largest technological college in the world for deaf and hard-of-hearing students, located in Rochester, New York, students will discover what types of careers fit their interests; enjoy hands-on activities related to horticulture, solar energy, agriculture, food science and sustainable engineering; create their own solar USB charging device to take home; experience life on a college campus and meet other deaf and hard-of-hearing students with similar interests.

The program will have a mixture of career exploration and STEM workshops, including The Invisible World of Microbes; Curds, Whey, & Cones, Dirt… it’s good for you!; Solar Panel Charger; and Irrigation. Students also will be touring FSU’s Creamery, Solar Panel Facility, Planetarium and Water Irrigation Facility.

Since students and instructors will have various communication preferences, RIT/NTID is contracting with the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Service Center in Fresno to ensure interpreters are present for all courses and tours. 

RIT/NTID is receiving support from FSU’s Department of Communicative Sciences and Deaf Studies as well as the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Service Center and California’s Department of Vocational Rehabilitation.   

The program is open to students who are California residents residing in Central Valley, and financial support for travel is available.

For more information, visit http://www.ntid.rit.edu/dats

NTID-supported delegates offer wisdom to fellow graduates

Left, a dark-skinned female in glasses, grad cap, gown and cord; right a light-skinned female in cap gown and cords.

Among the 23 commencement delegates at Rochester Institute of Technology’s commencement ceremonies May 11 and 12 were two deaf students who shared their own stories of overcoming obstacles and imparted advice to their fellow graduates.

Paula MacDonald, the undergraduate delegate for the National Technical Institute for the Deaf from Cumberland, Ontario, Canada, graduated with an associate degree in computer aided drafting technology.

She completed a co-op with Fulcrum Engineering, where she prepared drawings and specifications for structural engineering projects. At RIT/NTID, she served as president of the Deaf International Student Association and was active with the Deaf Basketball Association and the Deaf Volleyball Association. MacDonald will be transferring to the bachelor’s degree program in civil engineering technology at RIT and plans to become a civil/structural engineer.

In her presentation, MacDonald encouraged her fellow graduates to follow their passions, be an inspiration to themselves and others and to become leaders in their families, communities and beyond.

“It’s such a wonderful honor to stand here and give my speech, to represent you all, as a deaf aboriginal woman in engineering,” she said.

Joan "Jo" Bempong, the undergraduate delegate for the Kate Gleason College of Engineering, is from Irving, Texas. She earned combined bachelor’s/master’s degrees in computer engineering with a minor in Deaf cultural studies.

She completed co-ops at Texas Instruments, Sandia National Laboratories, and VTCSecure. Bempong was a recipient of the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, the Outstanding Undergraduate Scholarship Award, the Deep Learning Classification Challenge Award and the Machine Intelligence Best Project Presentation Award. She was a finalist in both the Digital Rochester GREAT Award for student achievement and the RIT Tiger Tank competition. She was invited to present her work at the 25th Anniversary Congress on Women’s Health, and has accepted a full-time position at Texas Instruments.

Bempong used her own story of refusing to accept limitations because of her deafness and advised fellow graduates to, “Be extraordinary! Be rebellious. Be different. Take a stab at something you believe in and go for it. Do not be afraid to fail. When you do fail, fail hard and fail fast. Learn from your mistakes and keep on learning. And remember to ask for help when you need it.”

RIT/NTID students among RIT’s 2018 Legacy Leaders

Group of female students, each holding a blue folder.

Three RIT/NTID graduating seniors were recognized as part of the Legacy Leadership program of RIT's Center for Women and Gender and the Center for Leadership & Civic Engagement. They are:

Brianna Conrad, an American Sign Language-English Interpretation major from Frederick, Maryland

Kaitlyn Shirey, an American Sign Language-English Interpretation major from Ambler, Pennsylvania

Britta Schwall, a business management major from Pflugerville, Texas

The Legacy Leadership program recognizes the achievements and leadership of RIT graduating women students. Students are self-nominated and must obtain two letters of support from the RIT or outside community detailing their civic responsibility and leadership. 

The selected Legacy Leaders attended the 2018 Women’s Career Achievement Dinner held on April 30, 2018, in the Gordon Field House as guests of the Center for Women and Gender and Center for Leadership & Civic Engagement.

History book highlights the first 50 years of RIT/NTID

Image of LBJ Hall at night with lights on in the entrance. Text: A shining beacon fifty years of NTID (spelled out)

A new history book detailing the establishment and rise of one of the country’s most innovative educational experiments now is available.

Published by RIT Press, “A Shining Beacon: Fifty Years of the National Technical Institute for the Deaf” highlights the first 50 years of the world’s first and largest technological college for deaf and hard-of-hearing students at Rochester Institute of Technology. From its early days in 1968 to its 50th anniversary, NTID has graduated more than 8,000 alumni and has transformed the education of deaf and hard-of-hearing students in the U.S. and around the world.

Seen through the perspectives of selected contributors, “A Shining Beacon” illuminates the multifaceted experiences of NTID’s students, faculty and staff, covering topics as varied as Deaf culture, the performing arts, student leadership and more.

With a foreword by Dr. Gerard J. Buckley, NTID president and RIT vice president and dean – who is himself an alumnus of the college – the book features contributions by more than 30 current and former faculty, staff and students, and is filled with photographs from the college’s archives through present day.

The book’s title is based on a quote by Dr. S. Richard Silverman, former director of the Central Institute for the Deaf, who in 1974 referred to RIT/NTID as “a lustrous beacon…of such magnitude, dignity and décor…that will illuminate the hearts of all who come to be served here.”

“A Shining Beacon” was edited by James McCarthy, who graduated from RIT/NTID in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in Professional and Technical Communication, and later earned a master’s degree in Library and Information Science from the University of South Florida. McCarthy returned to RIT/NTID in 2015, and is a senior marketing communications specialist with the college’s Communications, Marketing and Multimedia Services Department.

The book’s release coincides with RIT/NTID’s 50th anniversary reunion celebration June 28-July 1, and can be ordered on the RIT Press website: https://www.rit.edu/press/shining-beacon.

 

RIT/NTID honors graduates at Academic Awards and Commencement Ceremonies

President Buckley and Gary Behm with nine student award recipients, all female.

Several students at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf were honored with their families and friends at an academic awards ceremony May 11. NTID President and RIT Vice President and Dean Gerry Buckley and Interim Associate Vice President for NTID Academic Affairs Gary Behm hosted the ceremony.

Academic Achievement Awards were presented in recognition of high academic achievement to the following RIT/NTID associate, baccalaureate and master’s graduates:

  • Jimmy Wong, applied computer technology major from Chicago, Illinois, received the Academic Achievement Award for students earning an associate degree.
  • Radhika Mehra, fine arts major from Rochester, New York, received the Academic Achievement Award for students earning a bachelor’s degree.
  • Kailey Martin, a visual arts-all grades major from Londonderry, New Hampshire, received the Academic Achievement Award for students earning a master’s degree.

Outstanding Graduate Awards are presented to one associate, one bachelor’s and one master’s degree graduate, each of whom has achieved a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0, demonstrated appropriate personal and social maturity, and provided service to the RIT community. They are:

  • Sabrina Serna, a laboratory science technology major from Lake View Terrace, California, received the Outstanding Graduate Award for students earning an associate degree.
  • Emmanuel Perrodin-Njoku, a biomedical sciences major from Washington, D.C., received the Outstanding Graduate Award for students earning a bachelor’s degree.
  • Megan Freeman, a management & information systems major from Missoula, Montana, received the Outstanding Graduate Award for students earning a master’s degree.

Additional honors awarded at the ceremony include:

  • ASLIE Outstanding Graduate Award to Eva-Alaine Thibault, an American Sign Language-English Interpretation major from Rochester, New York. 
  • NTID Undergraduate College Delegate, Paula MacDonald, a computer aided drafting technology major from Cumberland, Ontario, Canada.
  • Outstanding Undergraduate Scholars:
    • Heather Barczynski, ASL-English Interpretation major from Wexford, Pennsylvania
    • Brianna Conrad, ASL-English Interpretation major from Waterloo, New York
    • Erin Ireland, ASL-English Interpretation major from Walworth, New York
    • Elizabeth Odom, ASL-English Interpretation major from Louisville, Kentucky
    • Isabel Snyder, ASL-English Interpretation major from Newton Highlands, Massachusetts
    • Kalyna Sytch, ASL-English Interpretation major from Rochester, New York

RIT/NTID’s graduating class this year includes 319 graduates: 100 associate degrees, 32 bachelor’s degrees in American Sign Language-English Interpretation, three master’s degrees in health care interpreting and 12 master’s degrees from the program in secondary education of students who are deaf or hard of hearing. There are 176 NTID-supported graduates in RIT’s eight other colleges.

Buckley honored the graduates’ accomplishments and encouraged them to go into the world with the same determination they showed in their time at the college.

“To Class of 2018, America believes in you and has invested in NTID,” he said. “Go show the nation your NTID spirit and Tiger Pride. Congratulations!”

 

Twin sisters graduate from RIT/NTID, follow different paths

Two dark-skinned females with glasses wearing graduation caps and gowns, one has an orange master's hood, medallion, gold cords.

Born and raised in Irving Texas, twin sisters Joan “Jo” and Jane Bempong attended mainstream schools together from elementary through high school, and then decided to continue learning together in college when they were both accepted at Rochester Institute of Technology, supported by the university’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf.

At RIT they were able to live together, but follow different educational and career paths.

“I was always fascinated by technology,” Jo said. “Back in the day, MySpace piqued my interest in coding, so Computer Engineering seemed to be a good fit for me.”

But Jane had other interests. “I was always the person who people would come to for either advice or emotional support,” she said. “I always enjoyed being there for people ever since a young age, which is why majoring in psychology made sense for me.”

They plan to follow their different career interests after graduation, with Jo having accepted a full-time position at Texas Instruments in Dallas, Texas, as a software engineer, and Jane either applying to graduate school or getting more work experience in the psychology/mental health field.

As they reflect on their time at RIT/NTID, Jo considers it the place where she grew as an individual.

“I came out of my comfort zone and became an entrepreneur, a researcher, and a leader aside from being an engineer,” she said.

And for Jane, “RIT helped confirm my career choice and increased my passion for the mental health field.”

RIT recognized by U.S. Department of State as Gilman Top Producing Institution

Wheelchair graphic and text

The U.S. Department of State recognized Rochester Institute of Technology for success providing study-abroad opportunities for students with disabilities. RIT was named to the inaugural list of U.S. higher education institutions that sent the most students overseas on the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program in academic year 2016-2017. The Gilman Program aims to make international study and internships more accessible and inclusive for American students of all backgrounds.

Among medium-sized colleges and universities, RIT was tied for the most Gilman Awardees with disabilities with three in 2016-2017. RIT is one of just 36 universities nationally named to the Gilman Top Producing Institutions list.

“The access created by this scholarship, paired with RIT’s commitment to provide interpreting support for students that are deaf or hard of hearing, has made study abroad not only a possibility, but a reality for many of our students,” said Claire DelMonte, program specialist for education abroad and international fellowships at RIT. “The Gilman Scholarship Program's commitment to increasing access to study abroad for underrepresented students has inspired our Education Abroad office to create our own travel grants, which we award to students with financial need.”

Four RIT students have been selected Gilman Awardees for spring and summer 2018:

  • Leo Holman, a fourth-year digital humanities and social sciences student from Hot Springs, S.D., studied abroad in Nanjing, China, this spring
  • Roberto Ramos-Brito, a third-year student double majoring in electrical engineering technology and applied modern language and culture from Camillus, N.Y., will study in Genova, Italy, this summer.
  • Third-year applied arts and sciences student Alana Smith of Riverside, Calif., will study in Copenhagen, Denmark, over the summer.
  • Nathanael Thomas, a fourth-year student double majoring in applied arts and sciences and international and global studies from Bethesda, Md., will travel to the Himalayas this summer to study in Bhutan.

The Gilman Program, with the support of the U.S. Congress, broadens the U.S. student population studying and interning abroad by providing scholarships to outstanding undergraduates who, due to financial constraints, might not otherwise participate. Since the program’s establishment in 2001, more than 1,300 U.S. institutions have sent more than 25,000 Gilman scholars to 145 countries around the globe.