Issue # 17– October 16, 2010
Student Staff Spotlight: Community Advocate Steven Singer
Steven is currently serving as a Community Advocate for his first year of graduate school at RIT and specifically works with residents in the Perkins Green complex. He is in the MSSE program– Master of Science Program in Secondary Education through the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID), and hails from Indiana, PA.
Interviewer: Steven, you are not originally from Rochester. What made you decide to pursue your master’s degree at RIT? Where did you do your undergrad and why did you choose the MSSE program?
Steven: I attended Philadelphia University and received my undergraduate teaching degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. This was after recently becoming deaf, and came at a great challenge to me. After graduation, I interviewed at many schools for a position in my field, Family and Consumer Sciences. I met with the same response each time. They would love to hire me, but only if I provided my own interpreter, which of course was impossibility. It was then that I realized my true objective of becoming a conduit between the two worlds of which I have lived, in the form of an educator of the Deaf. There was no question of where I should pursue that. I have never accepted mediocrity in my life, and simply there are but two places, Gallaudet, and RIT/NTID, and obviously you know my preference! Further, NTID allowed me to remain in the field I love the best which prepares our nation’s youth for independent living.
Interviewer: You have an unusual roommate in RIT Housing – can you tell us a little bit about her and what you would like residents to know?
Steven: When I became deaf 5 years ago, one of the very first things I did was apply for a service dog. What I did not realize was what a long demanding process that was. When I was finally matched with Bebe, my wonderful black lab, the transition from hearing to deaf became much easier. Service dogs are very special and about only 1out of 50 who start training are able to fulfill all of the requirements which are tested annually through her organization - Susquehanna Service Dogs in PA. To a list of about 25 items, she alerts me to by hitting me with her nose, and taking me to the source, but truly how she helps me is by her natural reactions to sounds. An example is if someone broke something, she would look, and then I would be aware that something was occurring. Also she acts as an icebreaker in my interactions with hearing people. Lip-reading is a difficult feat, but I can predict all of the questions people will ask me about her. This eases us into the countless relationships we must have with diverse people in society. In our years in rural PA, it was often very isolating and lonely, even more so in public than at home and her companionship pulled me through. We must remember though that she is still a dog, and has her weaknesses. She gets excited when she sees other dogs, amongst other things, and loves a great game of fetch at the end of the work day. When that vest comes off, she knows she is off duty, and becomes very excited.
Interviewer: You have been working in Residence Life at RIT for about two months now - what do you like most about being a Community Advocate?
Steven: I have really enjoyed how the position has integrated me into the RIT environment. Until I arrived for training this quarter, I had never been to Rochester, and knew not a single person. Within a week’s time, and continually since, I have been meeting wonderful people, becoming involved in campus events, and learning how different facets of the institute work. I feel it was a wonderful way to quickly become a contributing member to our community. It also gives me insight to the needs of students transitioning from high school to college and beyond which are an important aspect of my profession.
Interviewer: How did you hear about the position in Residence Life?
Steven: Once accepted, I knew I would want to have a graduate assistantship. In the end, I would agree to two. I also work with the NTID Theater doing costuming. Like the beginning of most pursuits, I simply started asking everyone I had come in contact with at the school, a barrage of questions about jobs and opportunities. I was not satisfied to wait until arriving to find something in fear that I might not procure a position I enjoyed. I was impressed with the interview process which occurred primarily via Skype and Videophone, and the access services provided by RIT. At that moment I knew I was making the right decisions.
Interviewer: What do you feel is the most important contribution the Community Advocates make to RIT or their residents?
Steven: Students need to feel that they are involved in the creation and function of the community in which they live. They need to know how to access resources and that they have a staff of people who can help them wade through the bureaucratic system. As Community Advocates, we facilitate that.
Interviewer: What is a random fact about yourself that no one could guess?
Steven: I am afraid of heights and crowded or tight places.
Interviewer: Your hometown is Indiana, PA - what do you like best about Rochester so far?
Steven: I love beautiful autumn and winter weather, something of which Rochester has both. I am so very excited about the vast amounts of snow coming our way soon. I read it is an average of 95 inches a year!
Interviewer: What do you like to do for fun?
Steven: The Boy Scouting program has always been a very important part of my life, and with the camping and hiking. I also belong to a medieval recreation group called the Society for Creative Anachronisms. At home, I collect books, much faster than I can read them.
If you would like to contact Steven, his Residence Life email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more articles from this issue, click here