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RIT/NTID Student Changes Statewide Testing, Earns National Girl Scout Award

16 Oct

A second-year RIT/NTID student is receiving national recognition this week as one of 10 Girl Scout USA 2014 Young Women of Distinction at a national convention in Salt Lake City.

Anna Krauss of Manorville, N.Y., has been a Girl Scout since age 5, when she joined as a Daisy Scout. Now that she is in college, she’s an Ambassador Scout and majoring in biotechnology and molecular bioscience. She regularly makes the Dean’s List at RIT.

Born deaf in one ear, Krauss lost her hearing in her other ear at age 9. Since then, she has relied on a sign language interpreter in her school classes.

In 2011, two years before she’d graduate from high school, Krauss was taking state-required tests. A portion of the test was a listening passage, given orally. Being profoundly deaf, Krauss had to rely on her interpreter to help her understand what the teacher was saying.

“I always dreaded the state tests for their listening portions,” she said. “Sometimes things get lost in translation,” Krauss said. She ended up with a test score of 80. “I started to cry if I got below a 90 in school,” she said. “It was ridiculous.”

For her Gold Award project, similar to the projects Boy Scouts must complete to become Eagle Scouts, Krauss decided to try to change the way those mandated listening portions of state tests are given to deaf and hard-of-hearing students in New York.

“I picked that because I felt very strongly about it,” she said. Krauss started lobbying state officials and as a result, the state now allows deaf and hard-of-hearing students across the state to use a written transcript during oral portions of examinations.

“It took three years for me to fight for that accommodation,” she said.

She doesn’t plan to attend the Girl Scout Convention in Salt Lake City because she doesn’t want to miss any classes. This summer, she traveled to the Girl Scouts of USA headquarters in New York City and met Anna Maria Chavez, the CEO of the Girls Scouts of the USA. Chavez presented Krauss with a $5,000 check that came with her award, which Krauss will use for college.

After college, she’s considering becoming a researcher or a science teacher, perhaps at RIT’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf.

But Krauss hopes to stay connected with the Girl Scouts as an alumnus so they can continue to empower girls like her. “I do want to continue in some way, to talk with younger troops to tell them how much they can do by staying with Girl Scouts and going all the way,” Krauss said. “It starts with cookie sales and ends with changing the world.”

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Watch Keith's video and find out why RIT is the right fit for him and why it could be for you, too. More.

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Daniel Latimer has collected as many skills and lab techniques as possible in his “tool belt” so he is prepared for the next step on his path to a Ph.D. More

Ryan Hait-Campbell named National Association of the Deaf Youth Ambassador

16 Jul

Ryan Hait-Campbell, who with three other students at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf helped start a business intended to help communication between deaf and hearing people, was named Deaf Youth Ambassador by the National Association of the Deaf during their recent convention in Atlanta.

“I am very honored that I won and I will do my best to push for a deaf accelerator program for start-up businesses,” he said.

Two Deaf Youth Ambassadors – a male and a female – were chosen, and will work with NAD to address a social issue within the deaf community. They will also represent NAD at presentations, workshops, the Youth Leadership Camp and other events in the community.

Elena Maer, of St. Louis, Mo., was selected female Deaf Youth Ambassador. Two other contestants were RIT/NTID students: Allison Friedman, an applied liberal arts major from Wheeling, Ill., and Keith Delk, a new media design major from Beach Park, Ill. Established by Congress nearly 50 years ago, NTID provides unparalleled support services for more than 1,250 deaf and hard-of-hearing students annually, with tutors, notetakers and more than 120 interpreters who support students in and out of the classroom.

Hait-Campbell said he wants to use the experience he’s gained in starting a business to help other fledgling companies started by deaf entrepreneurs.

“I entered the contest because there are very few deaf-run businesses out there and there are some amazing contests all over,” he said. “However, the problem I’ve noticed is that after those contests are over, the teams don’t really have any idea what to do next.”

Hait-Campbell, a new media design major from Seattle, Wash., helped form MotionSavvy, which uses new technology that may convert hand shapes into text. He won third place in the Next Big Idea competition at NTID in 2013, along with his MotionSavvy teammates Alex Opalka, a computer engineering major from Glastonbury, Conn.; Wade Kellard, a mechanical engineering technology major from Cincinnati, Ohio; and Jordan Stemper, an industrial design major from Waukesha, Wisc.

Last summer, the team was accepted into RIT’s Summer Start-Up course for new businesses at RIT’s Saunders College of Business. And they’ve spent the past few months in San Francisco in Leap Motion’s LEAP AXLR8R.  Leap technology is used in their concept that may translate sign language into text by reading hand shapes. The team is considering returning to Rochester as their technology grows.

Hait-Campbell said he originally attended the NAD convention to promote MotionSavvy. “But everyone there already knew about us and I didn’t see a point in presenting about it, so I aimed to make us more active in the deaf community by becoming one of the leaders and pitch about the process of how I’m just a graphic designer, but now I’m also running a business. But I could never have done it on my own. It’s because of Saunders Start-up and the accelerator program that I am here. I am forever thankful to RIT for giving me this opportunity to change the world.” 

RIT/NTID Team Wins NAD College Bowl

8 Jul

For the second consecutive time, a team from Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf won the National Association of the Deaf College Bowl Championship for deaf and hard-of-hearing college students. More