The Right Fit

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After my high school experience of being the only deaf person in a large public school and feeling like an outsider, I knew I wanted a different experience in college. RIT is the perfect fit for me because it gives me the ability to be part of both the Deaf world and the hearing world, and I am forever grateful for that. I could not find this kind of opportunity at any other college. Because of RIT’s unique environment I have widened my social connections, and I believe this is what is helping me become successful both inside and outside the classroom.

Gail Gonzalez

Hometown

Rochester, New York

Preferred Communication Mode

American Sign Language

After my high school experience of being the only deaf person in a large public school and feeling like an outsider, I knew I wanted a different experience in college. RIT is the perfect fit for me because it gives me the ability to be part of both the Deaf world and the hearing world, and I am forever grateful for that. I could not find this kind of opportunity at any other college. Because of RIT’s unique environment I have widened my social connections, and I believe this is what is helping me become successful both inside and outside the classroom.

In high school, I was in a mainstream program with only one other deaf person. It was a very isolating experience and although I could communicate with my peers, it was exhausting. After my sophomore year, I moved to a Deaf school to gain social interactions and it was there I grew as a person and reconnected to my Deaf identity. I chose RIT/NTID because I wanted to be part of both the Deaf world and the hearing world, and also be able to accomplish my other goals, especially pursuing my passion for theater. I wanted to have instruction in both ASL and spoken English, as I’ve been raised using both. I knew that if I had gone to another university, I would not have been able to fully dive into experiences as I have here. RIT fits my criteria of a top-choice school because it’s a vibrant campus that embraces the Deaf community. The academics are top-notch and the unique performing arts program has allowed me to develop my acting skills and collaborate with hearing and deaf performers. Opportunities is the one word I would use to describe RIT, and I’m so glad I chose this university.

Serena Rush

Hometown

Silver Spring, Maryland

Major

Psychology

Preferred Communication Mode

American Sign Language

In high school, I was in a mainstream program with only one other deaf person. It was a very isolating experience and although I could communicate with my peers, it was exhausting. After my sophomore year, I moved to a Deaf school to gain social interactions and it was there I grew as a person and reconnected to my Deaf identity. I chose RIT/NTID because I wanted to be part of both the Deaf world and the hearing world, and also be able to accomplish my other goals, especially pursuing my passion for theater. I wanted to have instruction in both ASL and spoken English, as I’ve been raised using both. I knew that if I had gone to another university, I would not have been able to fully dive into experiences as I have here. RIT fits my criteria of a top-choice school because it’s a vibrant campus that embraces the Deaf community. The academics are top-notch and the unique performing arts program has allowed me to develop my acting skills and collaborate with hearing and deaf performers. Opportunities is the one word I would use to describe RIT, and I’m so glad I chose this university.

Searching for college and deciding which school to go to was an easy process for me. Although all the schools I toured interested me in terms of having a nice campus or a particular major I was interested in, none of the schools would come even close to having accommodations for the deaf and hard-of-hearing students that RIT/NTID offers. 

RIT is a good fit for me because of accommodations I get in and out of the classroom, and how seamlessly I can be involved in activities and classes. I am a three-sport varsity athlete here at RIT: cross country in the fall, indoor track in the winter, and outdoor track in the spring. I am surrounded by a great group of people who I have become friends with. 

Coming from a mainstream school made RIT/NTID stand out because of everything the school has to offer here that I just could not get access to in grade school.

Julianne Young

Hometown

Duxbury, Vermont

Preferred Communication Mode

Spoken English and Sign Language

Searching for college and deciding which school to go to was an easy process for me. Although all the schools I toured interested me in terms of having a nice campus or a particular major I was interested in, none of the schools would come even close to having accommodations for the deaf and hard-of-hearing students that RIT/NTID offers. 

RIT is a good fit for me because of accommodations I get in and out of the classroom, and how seamlessly I can be involved in activities and classes. I am a three-sport varsity athlete here at RIT: cross country in the fall, indoor track in the winter, and outdoor track in the spring. I am surrounded by a great group of people who I have become friends with. 

Coming from a mainstream school made RIT/NTID stand out because of everything the school has to offer here that I just could not get access to in grade school.

I see myself as a strong, deaf Black woman who can make a difference in the world as a scientist. Because RIT/NTID was a college that catered to the needs of deaf and hard-of-hearing students, and has students enrolled from all over the world, I felt that I could fit in comfortably because of this diversity. My decision to enroll was based on my ability to learn, relate, and empathize with all different types of cultures that I would hopefully experience.
 
At RIT, I excel in and out of the classroom. I was named the NTID Undergraduate Delegate for my accomplishments. As a student leader I have served as president of Hands of Fire, secretary of the Asian Deaf Club, as an ASL consultant in the Department of Access Services, and was a member of the Randleman Program, working with interpreters of color. I also serve as a research assistant in NTID’s Deaf Health Lab. All of these experiences have prepared me well for my future.

Maameyaa Asiamah

Hometown

Fairfax, Virginia

Preferred Communication Mode

American Sign Language

I see myself as a strong, deaf Black woman who can make a difference in the world as a scientist. Because RIT/NTID was a college that catered to the needs of deaf and hard-of-hearing students, and has students enrolled from all over the world, I felt that I could fit in comfortably because of this diversity. My decision to enroll was based on my ability to learn, relate, and empathize with all different types of cultures that I would hopefully experience.
 
At RIT, I excel in and out of the classroom. I was named the NTID Undergraduate Delegate for my accomplishments. As a student leader I have served as president of Hands of Fire, secretary of the Asian Deaf Club, as an ASL consultant in the Department of Access Services, and was a member of the Randleman Program, working with interpreters of color. I also serve as a research assistant in NTID’s Deaf Health Lab. All of these experiences have prepared me well for my future.

RIT is a good fit for me because of its phenomenal technology programs and the accommodations the college provides deaf and hard-of-hearing students, including interpreters, captionists, and notetakers. These access services allow me to interact in class without facing any communication barriers or challenges. Growing up in a mainstreamed environment as a deaf person, I wanted to learn more about my deaf identity and have the opportunity to be part of a deaf community. AT RIT, there are endless opportunities to get involved, and I’ve grown to learn more about myself than I ever knew.

Amanda Bui

Hometown

Fremont, California

Preferred Communication Mode

Spoken English and Sign Language

RIT is a good fit for me because of its phenomenal technology programs and the accommodations the college provides deaf and hard-of-hearing students, including interpreters, captionists, and notetakers. These access services allow me to interact in class without facing any communication barriers or challenges. Growing up in a mainstreamed environment as a deaf person, I wanted to learn more about my deaf identity and have the opportunity to be part of a deaf community. AT RIT, there are endless opportunities to get involved, and I’ve grown to learn more about myself than I ever knew.

Welcoming. It’s the word I use to describe RIT. Regardless of your background, RIT welcomes everyone and it’s one of the main reasons I chose to come here. I attended a mainstream high school, but had friends growing up who were both hearing and deaf. When searching for a college I wanted a Deaf community, strong academics, work experiences in my field before I graduate, and many opportunities to get involved. RIT offers me all of this and more. Here I have access to both the deaf and hearing worlds. This unique environment offers me an experience of what I will face in my workplace after I graduate.

Molly McEvoy

Hometown

Omaha, Nebraska

Major

Psychology

Preferred Communication Mode

American Sign Language

Welcoming. It’s the word I use to describe RIT. Regardless of your background, RIT welcomes everyone and it’s one of the main reasons I chose to come here. I attended a mainstream high school, but had friends growing up who were both hearing and deaf. When searching for a college I wanted a Deaf community, strong academics, work experiences in my field before I graduate, and many opportunities to get involved. RIT offers me all of this and more. Here I have access to both the deaf and hearing worlds. This unique environment offers me an experience of what I will face in my workplace after I graduate.

The resources available for deaf and hard-of-hearing students greatly influenced my decision as a deaf person to choose RIT. I also was impressed with the various computing-related programs the university offered, the co-op program that helps students prepare for their careers, and the high employment rate for deaf and hard-of-hearing students. RIT is a wonderful university with many opportunities. I am especially thankful for the NTID Co-op and Career Center that works with employers around the country to hire deaf co-op students and graduates. For my co-op, I got hired by First Republic Bank in California as their first deaf software engineering intern thanks to the efforts of NCCC. Having a career center that specializes in helping deaf and hard-of-hearing students get co-ops and jobs is something I did not find at other universities. RIT is the perfect place to prepare for my career and set me up for success.

Rachel Taylor

Hometown

Lenexa, Kansas

Preferred Communication Mode

Spoken English and Sign Language

The resources available for deaf and hard-of-hearing students greatly influenced my decision as a deaf person to choose RIT. I also was impressed with the various computing-related programs the university offered, the co-op program that helps students prepare for their careers, and the high employment rate for deaf and hard-of-hearing students. RIT is a wonderful university with many opportunities. I am especially thankful for the NTID Co-op and Career Center that works with employers around the country to hire deaf co-op students and graduates. For my co-op, I got hired by First Republic Bank in California as their first deaf software engineering intern thanks to the efforts of NCCC. Having a career center that specializes in helping deaf and hard-of-hearing students get co-ops and jobs is something I did not find at other universities. RIT is the perfect place to prepare for my career and set me up for success.

I used to attend a mainstream school when I was young until my father found out about deaf schools and made the decision to transfer me to a school for the deaf. It was there that I began to become outgoing, but it was at RIT that I became a social butterfly. I chose RIT because I knew I wanted a school where I could be successful and be myself. RIT is known for technology and innovation, and also creativity, art, and design. This was the perfect place for me as a graphic design major. The best things about RIT are the experiences and opportunities I get. I am involved with the Asian Deaf Club, Explore Your Future summer program, Alpha Xi Delta sorority, and Doves Club. I also like the hands-on experiences I get through RIT’s cooperative education. My co-op as a social media assistant will translate directly to helping me find a job after I graduate.

Amanda Inthavong

Hometown

Berkeley, California

Preferred Communication Mode

American Sign Language

I used to attend a mainstream school when I was young until my father found out about deaf schools and made the decision to transfer me to a school for the deaf. It was there that I began to become outgoing, but it was at RIT that I became a social butterfly. I chose RIT because I knew I wanted a school where I could be successful and be myself. RIT is known for technology and innovation, and also creativity, art, and design. This was the perfect place for me as a graphic design major. The best things about RIT are the experiences and opportunities I get. I am involved with the Asian Deaf Club, Explore Your Future summer program, Alpha Xi Delta sorority, and Doves Club. I also like the hands-on experiences I get through RIT’s cooperative education. My co-op as a social media assistant will translate directly to helping me find a job after I graduate.

As a Deaf person, accessibility to communication and being with other students like me were the key factors why I chose RIT. Having access to captioning, notetaking, and interpreting services has been instrumental to my academic success. Very few universities provide the range of accommodations that RIT offers. Also, being in a community that is aware and accepting of deaf and hard-of-hearing students, and who share common goals of academic achievement was important to me. Here I can surround myself with like-minded people who give me a sense of belonging and inspire me to do my best.

Dylan Levenson

Hometown

Detroit, Michigan

Major

Psychology

Preferred Communication Mode

American Sign Language

As a Deaf person, accessibility to communication and being with other students like me were the key factors why I chose RIT. Having access to captioning, notetaking, and interpreting services has been instrumental to my academic success. Very few universities provide the range of accommodations that RIT offers. Also, being in a community that is aware and accepting of deaf and hard-of-hearing students, and who share common goals of academic achievement was important to me. Here I can surround myself with like-minded people who give me a sense of belonging and inspire me to do my best.

I attended a school for the deaf and had a great high school experience. I was outgoing and participated in many school activities. I knew to be successful in college I needed to find a place where I would be comfortable and accepted. That’s what I found at RIT/NTID. It’s a diverse community and I found many other people just like me. I don’t feel out of place here, and the resources available for deaf and hard-of-hearing students are helping me to successfully navigate through college and prepare for my career. I’m a social media specialist with the NTID Student Life Team, a lab assistant in the NTID Business Studies Department, and a member of the Ebony Club. RIT/NTID is unique, and there is no place like it in the world.

Laniece Oliver

Hometown

Baltimore, Maryland

Preferred Communication Mode

Spoken English and Sign Language

I attended a school for the deaf and had a great high school experience. I was outgoing and participated in many school activities. I knew to be successful in college I needed to find a place where I would be comfortable and accepted. That’s what I found at RIT/NTID. It’s a diverse community and I found many other people just like me. I don’t feel out of place here, and the resources available for deaf and hard-of-hearing students are helping me to successfully navigate through college and prepare for my career. I’m a social media specialist with the NTID Student Life Team, a lab assistant in the NTID Business Studies Department, and a member of the Ebony Club. RIT/NTID is unique, and there is no place like it in the world.

I grew up in a hearing family. I was mainstreamed in a private high school, and was the only deaf student in my whole district. I wouldn’t say that I am shy, but because of my deafness I was more isolated in high school. I’d only hang out with a few people at a time instead of large groups because it was easier for me to communicate.
 
The highlight of my high school years was attending events for deaf students, including RIT/NTID’s EYF summer program. Making friends at these events was easy because I could relate to them in many ways that I couldn’t relate to my hearing friends in high school.
 
When searching for a college I had two non-negotiables, a college with a large Deaf community and ease to access services. I didn’t want to have to fight for access in college like I did in high school. RIT/NTID fulfilled both of my requirements, plus I’m surrounded by a hearing community who accepts me.
 
RIT/NTID truly is one of a kind, and there’s no other place like it on Earth. Everything we need as a deaf or hard-of-hearing person is here, and I feel like I am home.

Emma Foster

Hometown

Orrington, Maine

Preferred Communication Mode

American Sign Language

I grew up in a hearing family. I was mainstreamed in a private high school, and was the only deaf student in my whole district. I wouldn’t say that I am shy, but because of my deafness I was more isolated in high school. I’d only hang out with a few people at a time instead of large groups because it was easier for me to communicate.
 
The highlight of my high school years was attending events for deaf students, including RIT/NTID’s EYF summer program. Making friends at these events was easy because I could relate to them in many ways that I couldn’t relate to my hearing friends in high school.
 
When searching for a college I had two non-negotiables, a college with a large Deaf community and ease to access services. I didn’t want to have to fight for access in college like I did in high school. RIT/NTID fulfilled both of my requirements, plus I’m surrounded by a hearing community who accepts me.
 
RIT/NTID truly is one of a kind, and there’s no other place like it on Earth. Everything we need as a deaf or hard-of-hearing person is here, and I feel like I am home.

After attending RIT’s Explore Your Future summer camp program, I realized RIT was perfect for me. I met friends so easily and had communication access. These were important factors to me when choosing a college. As a student here I feel comfortable and prepared for success with the resources RIT has for deaf and hard-of-hearing students. My teachers, professors, and peers are always supporting me and giving me opportunities to understand and learn. At RIT, I have found the perfect place for me—my own community where I can fit in and be myself.

Delaney McBroom

Hometown

Orlando, Florida

Preferred Communication Mode

Spoken English and Sign Language

After attending RIT’s Explore Your Future summer camp program, I realized RIT was perfect for me. I met friends so easily and had communication access. These were important factors to me when choosing a college. As a student here I feel comfortable and prepared for success with the resources RIT has for deaf and hard-of-hearing students. My teachers, professors, and peers are always supporting me and giving me opportunities to understand and learn. At RIT, I have found the perfect place for me—my own community where I can fit in and be myself.

Given the immense pressure to go to a “top-tier” school, applying to college was incredibly stressful. I applied to 14 colleges, but when I set foot on RIT’s campus I immediately felt at home. I’d never seen so many deaf people in my life. 

Growing up isolated in an oral mainstream environment, I never realized that deafness wasn’t an “impairment,” nor did I realize that the Deaf community existed. After visiting RIT, I realized how badly I wanted to learn sign language and be part of a culture that celebrated my deafness without forcing me to wear hearing aids.

At RIT, I am blown away by the computing program, the amenities, the affordability, the dedicated support services, and the inclusive community. The access services I get here are unparalleled, and it’s amazing to be at a place where I belong and am valued as part of the community. 

Emily Lederman

Hometown

Morgantown, West Virginia

Preferred Communication Mode

Spoken English and Sign Language

Given the immense pressure to go to a “top-tier” school, applying to college was incredibly stressful. I applied to 14 colleges, but when I set foot on RIT’s campus I immediately felt at home. I’d never seen so many deaf people in my life. 

Growing up isolated in an oral mainstream environment, I never realized that deafness wasn’t an “impairment,” nor did I realize that the Deaf community existed. After visiting RIT, I realized how badly I wanted to learn sign language and be part of a culture that celebrated my deafness without forcing me to wear hearing aids.

At RIT, I am blown away by the computing program, the amenities, the affordability, the dedicated support services, and the inclusive community. The access services I get here are unparalleled, and it’s amazing to be at a place where I belong and am valued as part of the community. 

I grew up attending a school for the deaf since elementary school, so I knew RIT/NTID would be a good fit for me. I wanted a large Deaf community so I could continue to connect with other students like me, top-notch access services, and a college that was affordable. I fit in perfectly at RIT. The college has so many opportunities for deaf and hard-of-hearing students, and I’ve met many of my lifelong friends here. I could not imagine being anywhere else. I know I will be ready for a job when I graduate because RIT is preparing me well.

Thuy Vo

Hometown

Oakland, California

Preferred Communication Mode

American Sign Language

I grew up attending a school for the deaf since elementary school, so I knew RIT/NTID would be a good fit for me. I wanted a large Deaf community so I could continue to connect with other students like me, top-notch access services, and a college that was affordable. I fit in perfectly at RIT. The college has so many opportunities for deaf and hard-of-hearing students, and I’ve met many of my lifelong friends here. I could not imagine being anywhere else. I know I will be ready for a job when I graduate because RIT is preparing me well.

As a hard-of-hearing student, it was important that the college I attend had the access services I needed to succeed in my major. Since I was mainstreamed growing up, I also was interested in engaging in a community with other hard-of-hearing students, and having the opportunity to take ASL classes. I found this at RIT. 

RIT has allowed me to flourish much more than any other college would have. While other colleges say they have access services in place, nothing compares to the breadth of access and support services offered at RIT. I am able to participate fully in and out of the classroom, and the acceptance I get here is second to none. The community you’ll find here is diverse, supportive, and inclusive.  No matter how strongly you identify with the deaf and hard-of-hearing community or how you identify yourself on that spectrum, there are other students like you at RIT. 

Brian Christian

Hometown

Basking Ridge, New Jersey

Preferred Communication Mode

Spoken English

As a hard-of-hearing student, it was important that the college I attend had the access services I needed to succeed in my major. Since I was mainstreamed growing up, I also was interested in engaging in a community with other hard-of-hearing students, and having the opportunity to take ASL classes. I found this at RIT. 

RIT has allowed me to flourish much more than any other college would have. While other colleges say they have access services in place, nothing compares to the breadth of access and support services offered at RIT. I am able to participate fully in and out of the classroom, and the acceptance I get here is second to none. The community you’ll find here is diverse, supportive, and inclusive.  No matter how strongly you identify with the deaf and hard-of-hearing community or how you identify yourself on that spectrum, there are other students like you at RIT. 

I chose RIT because it offered something different than the other colleges I looked at. More than 1,000 deaf and hard-of-hearing students attend RIT, and that intrigued me. There weren’t many deaf people where I grew up, so the opportunity to immerse myself into a Deaf community strongly influenced my decision to apply to RIT. The college also provided the access services I needed, so I knew I could be successful in my major. RIT has been the perfect fit. I love the sense of community and shared understanding no matter your background or how you communicate.

Cece Gallagher

Hometown

Inwood, West Virginia

Preferred Communication Mode

Spoken English and Sign Language

I chose RIT because it offered something different than the other colleges I looked at. More than 1,000 deaf and hard-of-hearing students attend RIT, and that intrigued me. There weren’t many deaf people where I grew up, so the opportunity to immerse myself into a Deaf community strongly influenced my decision to apply to RIT. The college also provided the access services I needed, so I knew I could be successful in my major. RIT has been the perfect fit. I love the sense of community and shared understanding no matter your background or how you communicate.

Since I grew up mainstreamed, I was used to being the only deaf or hard-of-hearing individual in my school. All my life I felt like I didn’t belong. I told myself that I could never be fully involved in either the deaf or the hearing community because I lacked the signing skills and the hearing capabilities. That all changed when I enrolled at RIT. I have the ability here to immerse myself in both communities. Now, I finally feel like I belong. I realize it is possible to be a part of both communities. I truly feel like RIT provides students with the best of both worlds. There are so many people at RIT who I can relate to, and I’m making professional and personal connections that seemed unimaginable to me just a few years ago.

Trinity McFadden

Hometown

Norwalk, Connecticut

Preferred Communication Mode

Spoken English

Since I grew up mainstreamed, I was used to being the only deaf or hard-of-hearing individual in my school. All my life I felt like I didn’t belong. I told myself that I could never be fully involved in either the deaf or the hearing community because I lacked the signing skills and the hearing capabilities. That all changed when I enrolled at RIT. I have the ability here to immerse myself in both communities. Now, I finally feel like I belong. I realize it is possible to be a part of both communities. I truly feel like RIT provides students with the best of both worlds. There are so many people at RIT who I can relate to, and I’m making professional and personal connections that seemed unimaginable to me just a few years ago.

I went to a mainstream school and was the only deaf student with a sign language interpreter. I was quiet for the most part, but I would be more outgoing and social with my group of friends. When I started looking for colleges, I did as much research as possible, and took what previous students said into consideration. I chose RIT for four reasons: accessibility, location of the campus, good education, and safety. The accessibility at RIT is unbelievable. It is deaf-friendly, and all types of communication are welcome here. Diversity is embraced here, and I fit right in and got involved right away. I play on the RIT women’s basketball team, and participate in most events that the sports teams put together.

Graci Dietrich

Hometown

Glenwood Springs, Colorado

Preferred Communication Mode

Spoken English and Sign Language

I went to a mainstream school and was the only deaf student with a sign language interpreter. I was quiet for the most part, but I would be more outgoing and social with my group of friends. When I started looking for colleges, I did as much research as possible, and took what previous students said into consideration. I chose RIT for four reasons: accessibility, location of the campus, good education, and safety. The accessibility at RIT is unbelievable. It is deaf-friendly, and all types of communication are welcome here. Diversity is embraced here, and I fit right in and got involved right away. I play on the RIT women’s basketball team, and participate in most events that the sports teams put together.

I am fluent in ASL and identify myself as Deaf. When I was searching for a college I wanted someplace where I could feel a sense of belonging. I attended a school for the deaf for high school, but I knew that the real world would be very different from what I was accustomed to growing up. I chose RIT because it bridges the deaf world to the hearing world and I could experience both worlds. RIT has a vibrant and diverse Deaf community, and amazing opportunities in terms of academics, post-college employment, and extracurriculars. I can connect with the Deaf community and explore new things at the same time. I have a mixture of both deaf and hearing friends for which I am grateful. My confidence has increased and now I feel comfortable approaching anyone regardless of communication modes. I’m actively involved with student government, intramurals, Greek life, and many clubs. RIT has been the perfect place for my personal growth and career preparation.

Marisa Montoya

Hometown

Braddock Heights, Maryland

Preferred Communication Mode

American Sign Language

I am fluent in ASL and identify myself as Deaf. When I was searching for a college I wanted someplace where I could feel a sense of belonging. I attended a school for the deaf for high school, but I knew that the real world would be very different from what I was accustomed to growing up. I chose RIT because it bridges the deaf world to the hearing world and I could experience both worlds. RIT has a vibrant and diverse Deaf community, and amazing opportunities in terms of academics, post-college employment, and extracurriculars. I can connect with the Deaf community and explore new things at the same time. I have a mixture of both deaf and hearing friends for which I am grateful. My confidence has increased and now I feel comfortable approaching anyone regardless of communication modes. I’m actively involved with student government, intramurals, Greek life, and many clubs. RIT has been the perfect place for my personal growth and career preparation.

I attended mainstream schools, and most of my friends growing up were all hearing. Searching for a college was easy for me. RIT was my top choice because it offered me the opportunity to be around other deaf people, so I could relate to others like me as well as continue to learn and socialize with hearing individuals. The college provided support services I needed, and it offered a hands-on education that would prepare me for a job in the future. I knew I wouldn’t find the same opportunities and support for hard-of-hearing students anywhere else. After my visit, I knew RIT was the right place for me. RIT has prepared me to adapt to many different situations, and I’ve grown thanks to two amazing co-ops. I am now ready to make my mark in the hospitality industry.

Bella Araujo

Hometown

Barcelona, Spain

Preferred Communication Mode

Spoken English and Sign Language

I attended mainstream schools, and most of my friends growing up were all hearing. Searching for a college was easy for me. RIT was my top choice because it offered me the opportunity to be around other deaf people, so I could relate to others like me as well as continue to learn and socialize with hearing individuals. The college provided support services I needed, and it offered a hands-on education that would prepare me for a job in the future. I knew I wouldn’t find the same opportunities and support for hard-of-hearing students anywhere else. After my visit, I knew RIT was the right place for me. RIT has prepared me to adapt to many different situations, and I’ve grown thanks to two amazing co-ops. I am now ready to make my mark in the hospitality industry.

My identity of being Deaf truly played a major role in my enrollment at RIT/NTID, as I knew that I would thrive in higher education given the right support system, environment, and community. I also chose RIT/NTID, because of my experience at NTID’s Explore Your Future summer program. I truly felt at home, meeting other people just like me and found many role models who are doing so many different things. At RIT and throughout Rochester, I gained a community that understands me. The support and understanding from professors, peers, and businesses about my needs and accommodations make me feel safe, valued, and accepted. This is the place for me to thrive and grow!

Lia Horyczun

Hometown

Trumball, Connecticut

Preferred Communication Mode

Spoken English and Sign Language

My identity of being Deaf truly played a major role in my enrollment at RIT/NTID, as I knew that I would thrive in higher education given the right support system, environment, and community. I also chose RIT/NTID, because of my experience at NTID’s Explore Your Future summer program. I truly felt at home, meeting other people just like me and found many role models who are doing so many different things. At RIT and throughout Rochester, I gained a community that understands me. The support and understanding from professors, peers, and businesses about my needs and accommodations make me feel safe, valued, and accepted. This is the place for me to thrive and grow!

I was confident in identifying RIT as my first-choice college. I was attracted to the sense of community and a culture that accepts everyone for who they are. I was sold on the amazing co-op opportunities; having a place where I could continue to develop my interests in art, coding, and robotics; and the reduced tuition for deaf and hard-of-hearing students. I applied Early Decision, and  I’m so glad I did. Once I got my Early Decision acceptance, I felt a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders, and I enjoyed the rest of my senior year a lot more knowing that I didn’t have to worry about where I’d be going to college. At RIT. I’ve had the opportunity to meet more deaf people than I have in my entire life, and because of the access services I get I can follow and understand what’s being said in the classroom. It’s been such a positive experience.

Cleo Cheng

Hometown

Cary, North Carolina

Preferred Communication Mode

Spoken English and Sign Language

I was confident in identifying RIT as my first-choice college. I was attracted to the sense of community and a culture that accepts everyone for who they are. I was sold on the amazing co-op opportunities; having a place where I could continue to develop my interests in art, coding, and robotics; and the reduced tuition for deaf and hard-of-hearing students. I applied Early Decision, and  I’m so glad I did. Once I got my Early Decision acceptance, I felt a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders, and I enjoyed the rest of my senior year a lot more knowing that I didn’t have to worry about where I’d be going to college. At RIT. I’ve had the opportunity to meet more deaf people than I have in my entire life, and because of the access services I get I can follow and understand what’s being said in the classroom. It’s been such a positive experience.

The Philippines does not have the options that America offers. I started my education in a college called Del La Salle-College of Saint Benilde where there was a small deaf program. I received a scholarship to attend RIT, and since I’ve been in America my life has changed. RIT/NTID has a big deaf friendly community, and the university offers so many resources unlike home. I have my associate degree in design and imaging technology and I am working toward my BFA in visual media in RIT’s College of Art and Design. Aside from education, I got the opportunity to immerse myself into the culture here by joining several clubs and camps: Asian Deaf Club, Student Life Team, Explore Your Future, Tech Boyz/Girlz, and more. RIT/NTID is the right fit for me because it has the major, resources, and community that I need to succeed. I was able to land an internship with Center of Disability Rights because of the resources that RIT/NTID has for me. I plan to bring back what I learned here home to the Philippines and hope to inspire others there to pursue higher education.

Miko Arayata

Hometown

Quezon City, Philippines

Preferred Communication Mode

American Sign Language

The Philippines does not have the options that America offers. I started my education in a college called Del La Salle-College of Saint Benilde where there was a small deaf program. I received a scholarship to attend RIT, and since I’ve been in America my life has changed. RIT/NTID has a big deaf friendly community, and the university offers so many resources unlike home. I have my associate degree in design and imaging technology and I am working toward my BFA in visual media in RIT’s College of Art and Design. Aside from education, I got the opportunity to immerse myself into the culture here by joining several clubs and camps: Asian Deaf Club, Student Life Team, Explore Your Future, Tech Boyz/Girlz, and more. RIT/NTID is the right fit for me because it has the major, resources, and community that I need to succeed. I was able to land an internship with Center of Disability Rights because of the resources that RIT/NTID has for me. I plan to bring back what I learned here home to the Philippines and hope to inspire others there to pursue higher education.

I grew up in New York City, Massachusetts and Connecticut, and was mainstreamed. I grew up in an oral deaf community and did not learn American Sign Language until college. I didn’t know deaf colleges existed until an admission counselor from RIT came to my high school and explained the resources that were available. I decided to go to a community college for two years where I graduated, and then felt ready to go to RIT because of its great support system, deaf community, and it had a blend of everything I was already familiar with. I made friends from different backgrounds who were familiar with situations like mine, and they along with RIT in general made me feel like I am capable of doing big things. That confidence led me to join the Latin American Deaf Club, NTID Student Congress, and also the NTID Center on Cognition and Language. RIT is the right fit for me because it feels familiar, gives me the tools to overcome the challenges I face, and gives me the support that I need.

Naomi Villalba

Hometown

New York City, New York

Preferred Communication Mode

Spoken English

I grew up in New York City, Massachusetts and Connecticut, and was mainstreamed. I grew up in an oral deaf community and did not learn American Sign Language until college. I didn’t know deaf colleges existed until an admission counselor from RIT came to my high school and explained the resources that were available. I decided to go to a community college for two years where I graduated, and then felt ready to go to RIT because of its great support system, deaf community, and it had a blend of everything I was already familiar with. I made friends from different backgrounds who were familiar with situations like mine, and they along with RIT in general made me feel like I am capable of doing big things. That confidence led me to join the Latin American Deaf Club, NTID Student Congress, and also the NTID Center on Cognition and Language. RIT is the right fit for me because it feels familiar, gives me the tools to overcome the challenges I face, and gives me the support that I need.

I started off in a mainstream program until the third grade when I then attended the Louisiana School for the Deaf. I first heard about RIT/NTID through their call for student competitors for the NTID Math Competition. When the time came for me to choose a college, I had multiple staff and RIT/NTID alumni tell me about RIT, so I decided to do some research. With that research, I found that RIT/NTID was filled with an assortment of diverse individuals, people from many cultures, a mixture of deaf and hearing, along with interpreting students and interpreters. I wanted to work in the medical field and saw how the MIS program at RIT could bring me there. I’m involved in a number of clubs and organizations on campus such as NTID Student Assembly, Sigma Nu Fraternity, Latin American Deaf Club, Ebony Club, and have been involved in several theater performances – with “Cabaret” being my favorite! RIT/NTID is the right fit for me because of the large spectrum of creative arts, accessibility, cultural diversity, social life, and opportunities for professional growth.

Kendell Charles

Hometown

Opelousas, Louisiana

Preferred Communication Mode

American Sign Language

I started off in a mainstream program until the third grade when I then attended the Louisiana School for the Deaf. I first heard about RIT/NTID through their call for student competitors for the NTID Math Competition. When the time came for me to choose a college, I had multiple staff and RIT/NTID alumni tell me about RIT, so I decided to do some research. With that research, I found that RIT/NTID was filled with an assortment of diverse individuals, people from many cultures, a mixture of deaf and hearing, along with interpreting students and interpreters. I wanted to work in the medical field and saw how the MIS program at RIT could bring me there. I’m involved in a number of clubs and organizations on campus such as NTID Student Assembly, Sigma Nu Fraternity, Latin American Deaf Club, Ebony Club, and have been involved in several theater performances – with “Cabaret” being my favorite! RIT/NTID is the right fit for me because of the large spectrum of creative arts, accessibility, cultural diversity, social life, and opportunities for professional growth.

When I was looking at colleges I was searching for a place where I could continue to play competitive women’s hockey, specifically on a Division I team. I really didn’t consider the academic side because I didn’t think colleges differed in how they accommodated hard-of-hearing students. But when I looked at RIT and learned about the access and support services available for hard-of-hearing students like me, I instantly knew I wanted to go to college here. RIT is already set up to accommodate hard-of-hearing and deaf students and I knew I had to go here. Now that I’m a student-athlete here at RIT it’s been a great fit for me because everyone is accepting and respectful, regardless of my hearing loss. I don’t feel like a bystander and I don’t feel out of place. With the guidance and acceptance I get here at RIT, it has shaped me into the person I want to become, and helped me realize I want to be a better person.

Baylee Trani

Hometown

Huntington Beach, California

Preferred Communication Mode

Spoken English

When I was looking at colleges I was searching for a place where I could continue to play competitive women’s hockey, specifically on a Division I team. I really didn’t consider the academic side because I didn’t think colleges differed in how they accommodated hard-of-hearing students. But when I looked at RIT and learned about the access and support services available for hard-of-hearing students like me, I instantly knew I wanted to go to college here. RIT is already set up to accommodate hard-of-hearing and deaf students and I knew I had to go here. Now that I’m a student-athlete here at RIT it’s been a great fit for me because everyone is accepting and respectful, regardless of my hearing loss. I don’t feel like a bystander and I don’t feel out of place. With the guidance and acceptance I get here at RIT, it has shaped me into the person I want to become, and helped me realize I want to be a better person.

Being born and raised in Long Island and attending school in Commack, I never left the island. But when the time came to go to the RIT/NTID Explore Your Future (EYF) summer program, I found my interest in theater and film design. After that program, I got very interested in RIT because they had deaf, hard-of-hearing, and hearing students all in one place. When I first arrived here, I was an undecided major and took a variety of classes in graphic design, photography, production, and film. I then chose a major that included them all, visual media. Not only did I find a major that was a good fit for me, I also found friends in other students here who share the same experiences, including my first hard-of-hearing friend who now is my best friend. It’s so easy to meet people of all communication methods due to the awesome interpreting program and services here on campus. Here at RIT, I found my place in this world. I found out what I enjoy and what I want to be in the future.

Matthew Sluka

Hometown

East Northport, New York

Preferred Communication Mode

Spoken English and Sign Language

Being born and raised in Long Island and attending school in Commack, I never left the island. But when the time came to go to the RIT/NTID Explore Your Future (EYF) summer program, I found my interest in theater and film design. After that program, I got very interested in RIT because they had deaf, hard-of-hearing, and hearing students all in one place. When I first arrived here, I was an undecided major and took a variety of classes in graphic design, photography, production, and film. I then chose a major that included them all, visual media. Not only did I find a major that was a good fit for me, I also found friends in other students here who share the same experiences, including my first hard-of-hearing friend who now is my best friend. It’s so easy to meet people of all communication methods due to the awesome interpreting program and services here on campus. Here at RIT, I found my place in this world. I found out what I enjoy and what I want to be in the future.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a part of a deaf program and mainstreamed in a public school. I never really felt like I fit in, until one day a counselor from RIT/NTID came and changed my life. I was matched with an admissions counselor who also was deaf with a similar background as me and completely understood what I was looking for, so I decided to visit the campus. When I came to visit I fell in love with the strong balance of deaf and hearing students on campus. During my time here, I’ve been involved with Tiger Media as a photographer and director of marketing, an NLC Math tutor, an NTID Student Ambassador, participated in the Saunders Summer Startup program, and now I am working as an intern in RIT's Marketing and Communications Department. I knew RIT/NTID was the perfect fit for me because it is fully accessible with a tremendous support system and a strong Deaf community.

Gregory Schmidt

Hometown

Lockport, Illinois

Major

Marketing

Preferred Communication Mode

American Sign Language

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a part of a deaf program and mainstreamed in a public school. I never really felt like I fit in, until one day a counselor from RIT/NTID came and changed my life. I was matched with an admissions counselor who also was deaf with a similar background as me and completely understood what I was looking for, so I decided to visit the campus. When I came to visit I fell in love with the strong balance of deaf and hearing students on campus. During my time here, I’ve been involved with Tiger Media as a photographer and director of marketing, an NLC Math tutor, an NTID Student Ambassador, participated in the Saunders Summer Startup program, and now I am working as an intern in RIT's Marketing and Communications Department. I knew RIT/NTID was the perfect fit for me because it is fully accessible with a tremendous support system and a strong Deaf community.

Access services, strong academic rankings, having a criminal justice major, and opportunities to grow my leadership skills to make a difference in the world were important to me when searching for college. But finding a place where I could connect with other people like me was most important because growing up attending a mainstream high school was isolating at times. I knew I could have gone to other colleges and been successful, but RIT had all of the things on my checklist. RIT is awesome. I am successful in my academics, and have flourished as a student leader. I served as president of NTID's Ebony Club, and won multiple awards including NTID's Outstanding Leadership, Dale Carnegie's Future is Bright and M.O.C.H.A. (Men of Color, Honor and Ambition) Fitness Man of the Year. I also was a member of RIT’s wrestling team, and performed in a play presented by NTID’s Performing Arts Theater. Here I found a place to be me, and become the best leader I can be.

Cortez Harris

Hometown

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Preferred Communication Mode

Spoken English and Sign Language

Access services, strong academic rankings, having a criminal justice major, and opportunities to grow my leadership skills to make a difference in the world were important to me when searching for college. But finding a place where I could connect with other people like me was most important because growing up attending a mainstream high school was isolating at times. I knew I could have gone to other colleges and been successful, but RIT had all of the things on my checklist. RIT is awesome. I am successful in my academics, and have flourished as a student leader. I served as president of NTID's Ebony Club, and won multiple awards including NTID's Outstanding Leadership, Dale Carnegie's Future is Bright and M.O.C.H.A. (Men of Color, Honor and Ambition) Fitness Man of the Year. I also was a member of RIT’s wrestling team, and performed in a play presented by NTID’s Performing Arts Theater. Here I found a place to be me, and become the best leader I can be.

I didn’t have a lot of knowledge about the deaf world growing up. So, when I was in high school and struggling with my self-identity, one of my goals was to learn more about my “deaf side.” I decided to attend a community college first because I didn’t know what I wanted to study. That college had a deaf program and I fully immersed myself into the Deaf community. This greatly influenced my decision to continue my education at RIT. RIT is the perfect fit for me to get an outstanding education because it bridges the gap between the deaf and hearing worlds, so I can socially grow in both, and challenges me to step out of my comfort zone and try new things. I have both deaf and hearing friends from other countries and cultures who show me a bigger perspective of the world and life itself.

Michaela Mullin

Hometown

Alameda, California

Preferred Communication Mode

Spoken English and Sign Language

I didn’t have a lot of knowledge about the deaf world growing up. So, when I was in high school and struggling with my self-identity, one of my goals was to learn more about my “deaf side.” I decided to attend a community college first because I didn’t know what I wanted to study. That college had a deaf program and I fully immersed myself into the Deaf community. This greatly influenced my decision to continue my education at RIT. RIT is the perfect fit for me to get an outstanding education because it bridges the gap between the deaf and hearing worlds, so I can socially grow in both, and challenges me to step out of my comfort zone and try new things. I have both deaf and hearing friends from other countries and cultures who show me a bigger perspective of the world and life itself.

I went to high school at California School for the Deaf, Fremont and loved it there. I was very involved in high school and wanted those same opportunities in college. When I started my college search, I asked my friends who attend RIT what they had to say about the college. I also did other research because I wanted to find the best university to pursue my major and prepare me for my future. I finally decided to travel across the country and attend RIT because I felt it offered the right resources to help me be successful. Now that I’m here, I like the mainstream environment. I get access to full communication, and learning on a mainstream campus is new and exciting for me. I feel comfortable here just like in high school. I’m involved in different clubs and organizations, and that is helping me develop new skills.

Nelson Palacios

Hometown

Hayward, California

Preferred Communication Mode

American Sign Language

I went to high school at California School for the Deaf, Fremont and loved it there. I was very involved in high school and wanted those same opportunities in college. When I started my college search, I asked my friends who attend RIT what they had to say about the college. I also did other research because I wanted to find the best university to pursue my major and prepare me for my future. I finally decided to travel across the country and attend RIT because I felt it offered the right resources to help me be successful. Now that I’m here, I like the mainstream environment. I get access to full communication, and learning on a mainstream campus is new and exciting for me. I feel comfortable here just like in high school. I’m involved in different clubs and organizations, and that is helping me develop new skills.

Having my major and providing accommodations, so I could be successful, were my top factors when considering which college to attend. My cousin, who is hearing, first told me about RIT, so I decided to check it out. After I visited and took a tour, I applied right away because I felt like it was the right fit as soon as I stepped foot on campus. At RIT, I no longer would be one of a few deaf people like in high school. Now that I’m enrolled, I’m surrounded by many other people just like me, and get to pursue criminal justice that I’m passionate about. I love that here there is such a diverse group of deaf and hard-of-hearing people. Some only sign, others only voice and some sign and voice. Many use hearing aids, some use cochlear implants like me, and others don’t use any devices. The diversity of the deaf and hard-of-hearing people on campus helped me find my identity. This university is so much more than a campus. It’s a community that I truly feel a part of.

Vicky Morel

Hometown

Cornwall, New York

Preferred Communication Mode

Spoken English and Sign Language

Having my major and providing accommodations, so I could be successful, were my top factors when considering which college to attend. My cousin, who is hearing, first told me about RIT, so I decided to check it out. After I visited and took a tour, I applied right away because I felt like it was the right fit as soon as I stepped foot on campus. At RIT, I no longer would be one of a few deaf people like in high school. Now that I’m enrolled, I’m surrounded by many other people just like me, and get to pursue criminal justice that I’m passionate about. I love that here there is such a diverse group of deaf and hard-of-hearing people. Some only sign, others only voice and some sign and voice. Many use hearing aids, some use cochlear implants like me, and others don’t use any devices. The diversity of the deaf and hard-of-hearing people on campus helped me find my identity. This university is so much more than a campus. It’s a community that I truly feel a part of.

I decided to attend RIT because the college offers a top-ranked engineering program and a diverse community. It’s been easy to fit in and make a lot of friends. I went to a mainstream high school, and I was the only hard-of-hearing person there. When I visited RIT, I got to interact with people like me for the first time. I fit in right away. Being a part of the varsity track team has been a wonderful experience for me. At first, I thought I might feel excluded from team activities, but that’s not the case at all. In fact, there are several other deaf and hard-of-hearing athletes on the team, and we get along wonderfully with everyone. Being more than seven hours from home doesn’t concern me because I’m so happy here. I feel welcomed and comfortable at RIT, and I don’t think any other college could offer me the same inclusive community that I get to be a part of here every day.

Faith Falco

Hometown

Stafford, Virginia

Preferred Communication Mode

Spoken English

I decided to attend RIT because the college offers a top-ranked engineering program and a diverse community. It’s been easy to fit in and make a lot of friends. I went to a mainstream high school, and I was the only hard-of-hearing person there. When I visited RIT, I got to interact with people like me for the first time. I fit in right away. Being a part of the varsity track team has been a wonderful experience for me. At first, I thought I might feel excluded from team activities, but that’s not the case at all. In fact, there are several other deaf and hard-of-hearing athletes on the team, and we get along wonderfully with everyone. Being more than seven hours from home doesn’t concern me because I’m so happy here. I feel welcomed and comfortable at RIT, and I don’t think any other college could offer me the same inclusive community that I get to be a part of here every day.

RIT really worked to make me feel like I belonged here and was part of the RIT family. I had several people from RIT get in touch with me while I was deciding between colleges during my senior year of high school, and they made me aware of the variety of opportunities that existed at RIT. When I visited RIT’s Accepted Students Day, I could tell that everyone was passionate about what they did and was proud to be an RIT Tiger. My college experience so far has far exceeded what I expected. I have been lucky to work with incredibly intelligent and passionate people who have taught me a lot about the sciences, career opportunities and so much more. They’ve pushed me to step outside of my comfort zone, try new experiences and helped me grow as an individual.

Nicole Pannullo

Hometown

East Patchogue, New York

Preferred Communication Mode

Spoken English

RIT really worked to make me feel like I belonged here and was part of the RIT family. I had several people from RIT get in touch with me while I was deciding between colleges during my senior year of high school, and they made me aware of the variety of opportunities that existed at RIT. When I visited RIT’s Accepted Students Day, I could tell that everyone was passionate about what they did and was proud to be an RIT Tiger. My college experience so far has far exceeded what I expected. I have been lucky to work with incredibly intelligent and passionate people who have taught me a lot about the sciences, career opportunities and so much more. They’ve pushed me to step outside of my comfort zone, try new experiences and helped me grow as an individual.

I attended a school for the deaf, and loved my high school experience. I was very outgoing, so when I was searching for a college I wanted to find a place where making friends would be easy and where I could become involved in any activity I wanted to take part in. I also wanted a college that had resources specifically for deaf students, so I could be successful in my major. I visited RIT and knew immediately I belonged here. Over the years, I’ve made many friends at RIT—both deaf and hearing. My hearing friends enjoy learning sign language. My deaf and hard-of-hearing friends come from many different backgrounds. I love the community here and fit in perfectly as an RIT Tiger.

Maya Penn

Hometown

Vallejo, California

Preferred Communication Mode

American Sign Language

I attended a school for the deaf, and loved my high school experience. I was very outgoing, so when I was searching for a college I wanted to find a place where making friends would be easy and where I could become involved in any activity I wanted to take part in. I also wanted a college that had resources specifically for deaf students, so I could be successful in my major. I visited RIT and knew immediately I belonged here. Over the years, I’ve made many friends at RIT—both deaf and hearing. My hearing friends enjoy learning sign language. My deaf and hard-of-hearing friends come from many different backgrounds. I love the community here and fit in perfectly as an RIT Tiger.

I grew up attending Texas School for the Deaf. Everyone in my family attended or worked there. In Texas, I was very involved with sports, student government, international studies and the Deaf community. Finding a college that offered my major, a deaf community where my identity is welcomed, and the ability to find an internship/co-op were most important to me when searching for a college. I actually transferred to RIT after spending one year at a different college, and I have no regrets! I was nervous at first about transferring to RIT because I was not sure if I would like being part of a big school with a lot of hearing students. But as soon as I stepped foot on campus, I felt at home. Deaf and hard-of-hearing people are embraced here, and I was warmly welcomed into the community. Here at RIT, I get to pursue my dreams while being who I am. I never could have imagined how happy I would be being here at RIT. My time here has been nothing but an eye-opening, inspiring and phenomenal experience. I am extremely proud to say RIT is my second home, 110%. This school is a great fit for us all, no matter our backgrounds. A perfect place to gain academic and professional skills, and a fitting balance to focus on academics and socialize.

Amelia Hamilton

Hometown

Austin, Texas

Preferred Communication Mode

American Sign Language

I grew up attending Texas School for the Deaf. Everyone in my family attended or worked there. In Texas, I was very involved with sports, student government, international studies and the Deaf community. Finding a college that offered my major, a deaf community where my identity is welcomed, and the ability to find an internship/co-op were most important to me when searching for a college. I actually transferred to RIT after spending one year at a different college, and I have no regrets! I was nervous at first about transferring to RIT because I was not sure if I would like being part of a big school with a lot of hearing students. But as soon as I stepped foot on campus, I felt at home. Deaf and hard-of-hearing people are embraced here, and I was warmly welcomed into the community. Here at RIT, I get to pursue my dreams while being who I am. I never could have imagined how happy I would be being here at RIT. My time here has been nothing but an eye-opening, inspiring and phenomenal experience. I am extremely proud to say RIT is my second home, 110%. This school is a great fit for us all, no matter our backgrounds. A perfect place to gain academic and professional skills, and a fitting balance to focus on academics and socialize.

I was the only deaf person in my entire mainstream high school. I was definitely not a popular student, and had low self-esteem. It took me until the end of my high school career to get over my social anxieties of being deaf. Once I overcame this, I was able to make friends and identify myself.

I chose RIT because it offered my major, provided discounted tuition and had both hearing and deaf communities. I knew that I wanted a life with hearing people to experience a large set of perspectives, and to surround myself by deaf peers who understood what I was going through and who shared similar experiences. RIT’s large deaf community mixed within a mainstream campus was the ideal situation for me. The unique environment offers me the experience of a true reality that I will face after graduation.

RIT has been a wonderful fit for me because I am receiving an excellent education and incredible leadership experience that caters to both my general needs and specific needs as a deaf student. I’m not outcasted from the hearing portion of our student body, because all campus activities are inclusive of so many backgrounds, and it is incredibly easy to develop as a person here. I have been involved in many clubs and organizations, and today I serve as president of RIT’s Student Government. My time here at RIT has been nothing but amazing and enlightening. I found my identity here, and I have done things I have never imagined.

Bobby Moakley

Hometown

Boston, Massachusetts

Preferred Communication Mode

Spoken English

I was the only deaf person in my entire mainstream high school. I was definitely not a popular student, and had low self-esteem. It took me until the end of my high school career to get over my social anxieties of being deaf. Once I overcame this, I was able to make friends and identify myself.

I chose RIT because it offered my major, provided discounted tuition and had both hearing and deaf communities. I knew that I wanted a life with hearing people to experience a large set of perspectives, and to surround myself by deaf peers who understood what I was going through and who shared similar experiences. RIT’s large deaf community mixed within a mainstream campus was the ideal situation for me. The unique environment offers me the experience of a true reality that I will face after graduation.

RIT has been a wonderful fit for me because I am receiving an excellent education and incredible leadership experience that caters to both my general needs and specific needs as a deaf student. I’m not outcasted from the hearing portion of our student body, because all campus activities are inclusive of so many backgrounds, and it is incredibly easy to develop as a person here. I have been involved in many clubs and organizations, and today I serve as president of RIT’s Student Government. My time here at RIT has been nothing but amazing and enlightening. I found my identity here, and I have done things I have never imagined.

RIT is absolutely the perfect fit for me. I grew up mainstreamed as the only hard-of-hearing person I knew, and I was very self-conscious of it during high school. Coming to RIT's diverse and accepting community, meeting people with similar backgrounds as me for the first time, and learning ASL and connecting with the positive sides of my hearing loss has completely improved my mindset. On top of the perfect social atmosphere for me, getting access services in my classes, meetings and events is extremely helpful and easy to request. I believe I would have been happy at any college. But when I think about what it would be like as one of the few students with hearing loss at another college, and having to figure out access services alone and explain my hearing loss to peers, I become even more thankful for all of the ways that RIT/NTID has helped me grow and flourish.

Charles Hem

Hometown

Long Beach, Mississippi

Preferred Communication Mode

Spoken English

RIT is absolutely the perfect fit for me. I grew up mainstreamed as the only hard-of-hearing person I knew, and I was very self-conscious of it during high school. Coming to RIT's diverse and accepting community, meeting people with similar backgrounds as me for the first time, and learning ASL and connecting with the positive sides of my hearing loss has completely improved my mindset. On top of the perfect social atmosphere for me, getting access services in my classes, meetings and events is extremely helpful and easy to request. I believe I would have been happy at any college. But when I think about what it would be like as one of the few students with hearing loss at another college, and having to figure out access services alone and explain my hearing loss to peers, I become even more thankful for all of the ways that RIT/NTID has helped me grow and flourish.

I wanted to find a college that fit my learning style and interests. For me that meant small class sizes, tutors and support services, and direct instruction where faculty and staff can communicate directly with me using sign language. The college also had to have an orchestra that I could join, because I have been playing the viola since fourth grade, and it brings me so much joy that I couldn’t envision not continuing in college.

My family and I looked at several colleges before I chose RIT. The college offered all the things I was looking for. My biggest concern was being more than six hours from home, but I’m so happy here now that the distance doesn’t bother me anymore. I attended a mainstream school growing up, and I felt isolated sometimes from my peers, who oftentimes would not communicate with me at all. At RIT, I get to interact with other people like me for the first time, and can communicate with everyone. I have both deaf, hard-of-hearing and hearing friends, and the RIT community treats me so well. When I first arrived on campus, I was very shy. I was not comfortable interacting with people. Since being at RIT/NTID, I have developed my social skills, I am successful in the classroom, and now I always have a smile on my face. I made the right decision to attend RIT—100 percent!

Israelle Johnson

Hometown

Baltimore, Ohio

Preferred Communication Mode

Spoken English and Sign Language

I wanted to find a college that fit my learning style and interests. For me that meant small class sizes, tutors and support services, and direct instruction where faculty and staff can communicate directly with me using sign language. The college also had to have an orchestra that I could join, because I have been playing the viola since fourth grade, and it brings me so much joy that I couldn’t envision not continuing in college.

My family and I looked at several colleges before I chose RIT. The college offered all the things I was looking for. My biggest concern was being more than six hours from home, but I’m so happy here now that the distance doesn’t bother me anymore. I attended a mainstream school growing up, and I felt isolated sometimes from my peers, who oftentimes would not communicate with me at all. At RIT, I get to interact with other people like me for the first time, and can communicate with everyone. I have both deaf, hard-of-hearing and hearing friends, and the RIT community treats me so well. When I first arrived on campus, I was very shy. I was not comfortable interacting with people. Since being at RIT/NTID, I have developed my social skills, I am successful in the classroom, and now I always have a smile on my face. I made the right decision to attend RIT—100 percent!

I was mainstreamed and had a good mix of both hearing and deaf friends in high school. My priority while searching for a college was finding a well-ranked engineering program close to home. Later on in the search process, I realized how crucial communication accessibility was to me as well as having a deaf and hard-of-hearing community. The fit also had to be right. For me, that meant having the opportunity to meet people from various backgrounds, so I could find friends I could relate to and others I could learn a lot about, and we all could share in our common deafness. RIT met my criteria. To be honest, when I first arrived to campus the large number of students was overwhelming and the huge Deaf community was culture shock for me. I was not used to seeing so many deaf people all at once. But RIT’s friendly environment enabled me to make friends easily and find comfort right away. I have made great friends and I continue to meet new people with whom I share common interests. My friends who are hearing, know sign language or are willing to learn, and my friends who are deaf, come from all different backgrounds. They are academically driven and an amazing support system for me.

Grace Yukawa

Hometown

Newcastle, Washington

Preferred Communication Mode

American Sign Language

I was mainstreamed and had a good mix of both hearing and deaf friends in high school. My priority while searching for a college was finding a well-ranked engineering program close to home. Later on in the search process, I realized how crucial communication accessibility was to me as well as having a deaf and hard-of-hearing community. The fit also had to be right. For me, that meant having the opportunity to meet people from various backgrounds, so I could find friends I could relate to and others I could learn a lot about, and we all could share in our common deafness. RIT met my criteria. To be honest, when I first arrived to campus the large number of students was overwhelming and the huge Deaf community was culture shock for me. I was not used to seeing so many deaf people all at once. But RIT’s friendly environment enabled me to make friends easily and find comfort right away. I have made great friends and I continue to meet new people with whom I share common interests. My friends who are hearing, know sign language or are willing to learn, and my friends who are deaf, come from all different backgrounds. They are academically driven and an amazing support system for me.

Coming from high school, I didn’t really have a lot of close friends. I finished high school in three years, so that I could start college and begin a new journey. When I came to RIT it was a different experience than high school. I got to be more myself, and did not have to try to be someone different to fit in. I first thought interacting with other deaf people wasn’t important to me, because I didn’t have that experience in high school. But when I got to campus and saw all the other deaf people interacting and developing relationships with each other I realized it was important to me. I made friends quickly the first week of school, many of whom I am still best friends with today. The best thing that I get from RIT is acceptance from everyone. Faculty and staff understand how to work with deaf people, and I never had that before.

Myles Garner

Hometown

Chicago, Illinois

Preferred Communication Mode

Spoken English and Sign Language

Coming from high school, I didn’t really have a lot of close friends. I finished high school in three years, so that I could start college and begin a new journey. When I came to RIT it was a different experience than high school. I got to be more myself, and did not have to try to be someone different to fit in. I first thought interacting with other deaf people wasn’t important to me, because I didn’t have that experience in high school. But when I got to campus and saw all the other deaf people interacting and developing relationships with each other I realized it was important to me. I made friends quickly the first week of school, many of whom I am still best friends with today. The best thing that I get from RIT is acceptance from everyone. Faculty and staff understand how to work with deaf people, and I never had that before.

I’m deaf, so when looking for a college I wanted to find a place where I could meet new people who are like me. I wanted to find a place that had both deaf and hearing people—a place I could call home. When I discovered RIT, I knew I would fit in right away. I could be myself and be part of a community. Having a sense of belonging at RIT made me happy and more self-confident as a student and as an individual. I made lots of friends, both deaf and hearing, and found success in my academics. RIT has prepared me so well and given me the professional skills I need to succeed. I’m proud to say RIT is like my second home.

Caitlyn Lacerra

Hometown

Marlborough, Massachusetts

Preferred Communication Mode

American Sign Language

I’m deaf, so when looking for a college I wanted to find a place where I could meet new people who are like me. I wanted to find a place that had both deaf and hearing people—a place I could call home. When I discovered RIT, I knew I would fit in right away. I could be myself and be part of a community. Having a sense of belonging at RIT made me happy and more self-confident as a student and as an individual. I made lots of friends, both deaf and hearing, and found success in my academics. RIT has prepared me so well and given me the professional skills I need to succeed. I’m proud to say RIT is like my second home.

I grew up attending mainstream schools. Based on my high school experiences, I felt like I fit into the hearing community perfectly fine. When searching for a college, I thought many of the colleges I considered would have been a good fit academically for me. But they were all missing one important feature—a deaf community I was yearning to be a part of so I could meet other people like me who had gone through some of the same experiences and challenges as I did growing up. Coming to RIT was my shot to meet many other deaf and hard-of-hearing students from all over the country, as well as to get a fantastic education that was affordable and prepare me well for my future.

RIT has been an excellent fit for me. I have a group of buddies that are hearing and also some friends that are deaf and hard of hearing. It is a great feeling to be able to have a combination of both. I feel especially close to my friends who are deaf and hard of hearing because we shared so many of the same experiences before arriving at RIT.

Christopher Caulfield

Hometown

Champaign, Illinois

Preferred Communication Mode

Spoken English

I grew up attending mainstream schools. Based on my high school experiences, I felt like I fit into the hearing community perfectly fine. When searching for a college, I thought many of the colleges I considered would have been a good fit academically for me. But they were all missing one important feature—a deaf community I was yearning to be a part of so I could meet other people like me who had gone through some of the same experiences and challenges as I did growing up. Coming to RIT was my shot to meet many other deaf and hard-of-hearing students from all over the country, as well as to get a fantastic education that was affordable and prepare me well for my future.

RIT has been an excellent fit for me. I have a group of buddies that are hearing and also some friends that are deaf and hard of hearing. It is a great feeling to be able to have a combination of both. I feel especially close to my friends who are deaf and hard of hearing because we shared so many of the same experiences before arriving at RIT.

In high school, I considered myself shy and focused much of my time on drawing and painting. I liked creating designs, and I took several graphic design courses during high school. I fell in love with animation. I knew this was the field I wanted to continue to study in college. RIT was one of the schools I looked at, and it fit me best. It had my major and I could socialize with many other deaf students instead of with only a few like in my high school. Overall, I couldn’t have asked for a better college, and I couldn’t be happier with my choice. Along the way, I have made some great friends and I am getting a lot of hands-on experience in my field. When I see myself today I feel like I am a happier person who will get a great job in the future because RIT is preparing me so well.

Andrew Smith

Hometown

Chesterfield, Missouri

Preferred Communication Mode

Spoken English and Sign Language

In high school, I considered myself shy and focused much of my time on drawing and painting. I liked creating designs, and I took several graphic design courses during high school. I fell in love with animation. I knew this was the field I wanted to continue to study in college. RIT was one of the schools I looked at, and it fit me best. It had my major and I could socialize with many other deaf students instead of with only a few like in my high school. Overall, I couldn’t have asked for a better college, and I couldn’t be happier with my choice. Along the way, I have made some great friends and I am getting a lot of hands-on experience in my field. When I see myself today I feel like I am a happier person who will get a great job in the future because RIT is preparing me so well.

One of the best decisions I made was to enroll at RIT. I found my identity here and became part of a community. As a first-generation Latina student who is deaf, I encountered many challenges growing up. But I had big dreams and overcame the obstacles I faced. Coming from a tight-knit Latino family made it difficult for my parents to let me travel 3,000 miles from home to RIT. But I convinced my parents it was the best option for me. For the first time in my life, I am part of a community with other deaf students—many of whom also are deaf Latino students. The support from faculty and staff and the leadership experiences I have had here have helped shape me into the student I am today. I’ve grown from a shy, isolated student, to a strong leader on campus where I feel I belong. I’m proud to say that RIT is my second home.

Susana Flores

Hometown

Antioch, California

Preferred Communication Mode

American Sign Language

One of the best decisions I made was to enroll at RIT. I found my identity here and became part of a community. As a first-generation Latina student who is deaf, I encountered many challenges growing up. But I had big dreams and overcame the obstacles I faced. Coming from a tight-knit Latino family made it difficult for my parents to let me travel 3,000 miles from home to RIT. But I convinced my parents it was the best option for me. For the first time in my life, I am part of a community with other deaf students—many of whom also are deaf Latino students. The support from faculty and staff and the leadership experiences I have had here have helped shape me into the student I am today. I’ve grown from a shy, isolated student, to a strong leader on campus where I feel I belong. I’m proud to say that RIT is my second home.

I grew up attending deaf schools until high school and then transferred to a public school. I was the only deaf person in high school, and I socialized with my hearing friends using voice only. I was an outgoing person, but I had my share of days where I felt shy about meeting new people because I feared about making a bad first impression.  When I searched for a college it was important for me to find a place that provided deaf-friendly access because I wanted to make sure that I was going to receive and understand 100 percent of the classroom instruction. I also wanted to make sure that I was not going to be singled out again like in high school.  When I first arrived at RIT, I felt a little overwhelmed with how many deaf and hard-of-hearing students were here, but I was thrilled to start my college years and was looking forward to being included in a welcoming environment that I didn’t always have during my high school years. Now that I’m enrolled, I feel like I’m a complete person, and I don’t feel left out anymore. I feel embraced here.

Tyler Grabousky

Hometown

Moscow, Pennsylvania

Preferred Communication Mode

Spoken English and Sign Language

I grew up attending deaf schools until high school and then transferred to a public school. I was the only deaf person in high school, and I socialized with my hearing friends using voice only. I was an outgoing person, but I had my share of days where I felt shy about meeting new people because I feared about making a bad first impression.  When I searched for a college it was important for me to find a place that provided deaf-friendly access because I wanted to make sure that I was going to receive and understand 100 percent of the classroom instruction. I also wanted to make sure that I was not going to be singled out again like in high school.  When I first arrived at RIT, I felt a little overwhelmed with how many deaf and hard-of-hearing students were here, but I was thrilled to start my college years and was looking forward to being included in a welcoming environment that I didn’t always have during my high school years. Now that I’m enrolled, I feel like I’m a complete person, and I don’t feel left out anymore. I feel embraced here.

I attended a public high school and was the only deaf person. I see myself as a normal functioning person, and I don’t let my deafness define me. That being said, being deaf did have some influence on my decision to choose RIT, but it wasn’t the sole reason. RIT provided a top-tier education in Industrial Design, had outstanding access services and seemed to be the best environment for me to work and learn in and be successful. Now that I’m here, I enjoy having the opportunity to learn and socialize with hearing and deaf people, and I have a good mix of hearing and deaf friends. Because some deaf students use sign language, many hearing students on campus learn sign language, so they can communicate with them. It’s a very deaf-friendly community. There is a great combination of both worlds here, and I can fit comfortably in both of them.

Dylan Panarra

Hometown

Jackson, New Jersey

Preferred Communication Mode

Spoken English and Sign Language

I attended a public high school and was the only deaf person. I see myself as a normal functioning person, and I don’t let my deafness define me. That being said, being deaf did have some influence on my decision to choose RIT, but it wasn’t the sole reason. RIT provided a top-tier education in Industrial Design, had outstanding access services and seemed to be the best environment for me to work and learn in and be successful. Now that I’m here, I enjoy having the opportunity to learn and socialize with hearing and deaf people, and I have a good mix of hearing and deaf friends. Because some deaf students use sign language, many hearing students on campus learn sign language, so they can communicate with them. It’s a very deaf-friendly community. There is a great combination of both worlds here, and I can fit comfortably in both of them.

I view myself as a hard-of-hearing person because I come from an all hearing family and have a cochlear implant. I attended high school with only two other hard-of-hearing students. In high school, I was quiet and not very outgoing. When searching for a college, I was interested in attending a college far from home, and it was essential for me to find a place where I could have a good social life and get an outstanding education. My parents learned about RIT and thought it would be a great fit for me and encouraged me to come here. I’m glad I took their advice. It’s been the best decision I’ve made in my life. Since meeting so many other hard-of-hearing and deaf people at RIT, my perspective of myself has changed. I’m proud to be deaf, and I learned that I’m not alone. I’ve met so many people with different backgrounds and different high school experiences, and I share common experiences with many of them. I really feel at home at RIT. I’m successful here because the fit is right.

Chinkee Gratrix

Hometown

Vancouver, Washington

Preferred Communication Mode

Spoken English and Sign Language

I view myself as a hard-of-hearing person because I come from an all hearing family and have a cochlear implant. I attended high school with only two other hard-of-hearing students. In high school, I was quiet and not very outgoing. When searching for a college, I was interested in attending a college far from home, and it was essential for me to find a place where I could have a good social life and get an outstanding education. My parents learned about RIT and thought it would be a great fit for me and encouraged me to come here. I’m glad I took their advice. It’s been the best decision I’ve made in my life. Since meeting so many other hard-of-hearing and deaf people at RIT, my perspective of myself has changed. I’m proud to be deaf, and I learned that I’m not alone. I’ve met so many people with different backgrounds and different high school experiences, and I share common experiences with many of them. I really feel at home at RIT. I’m successful here because the fit is right.

My parents both graduated from RIT, so when I was searching for a college, RIT was on my radar, but I kept my options open. The college I would attend had to offer my major and provide accommodations, so I could be successful in my major as well as easily participate in clubs and activities. It also was important that there were other deaf and hard-of-hearing students on campus. I knew this would strongly influence my college choice because during my first two years of high school I was the only deaf person. I was involved in baseball and soccer, but I never felt like I truly belonged, and didn’t have a lot of friends outside of sports. I transferred to a large mainstream high school that had about 20 other deaf students in my junior year, and for the first time I really felt a part of a community. I wanted that same feeling at college, and I got it at RIT. With so many hard-of-hearing students at RIT like me, I found a place where I’m happy and not lonely. I’m successful in my major because faculty at RIT understand how to work with students who have a hearing loss. Communication is easy here. My professors know how to communicate with me and many even know some sign language, and the same is true with my hearing friends. RIT has been the perfect place for me to gain the academic and professional skills I need while having a vibrant social life. It’s been the perfect balance.

Kyle Murbach

Hometown

Wheaton, Illinois

Preferred Communication Mode

Spoken English and Sign Language

My parents both graduated from RIT, so when I was searching for a college, RIT was on my radar, but I kept my options open. The college I would attend had to offer my major and provide accommodations, so I could be successful in my major as well as easily participate in clubs and activities. It also was important that there were other deaf and hard-of-hearing students on campus. I knew this would strongly influence my college choice because during my first two years of high school I was the only deaf person. I was involved in baseball and soccer, but I never felt like I truly belonged, and didn’t have a lot of friends outside of sports. I transferred to a large mainstream high school that had about 20 other deaf students in my junior year, and for the first time I really felt a part of a community. I wanted that same feeling at college, and I got it at RIT. With so many hard-of-hearing students at RIT like me, I found a place where I’m happy and not lonely. I’m successful in my major because faculty at RIT understand how to work with students who have a hearing loss. Communication is easy here. My professors know how to communicate with me and many even know some sign language, and the same is true with my hearing friends. RIT has been the perfect place for me to gain the academic and professional skills I need while having a vibrant social life. It’s been the perfect balance.

I consider myself both a deaf and a hard-of-hearing person. I was born deaf to hearing parents and cannot hear anything without the help from my cochlear implant, but this device is a bridge for me between the hearing and deaf communities. I am fully capable of speaking, signing or a combination of both, and can communicate with anybody independently. 

Growing up, I attended a public high school with a small program for deaf students. I was very outgoing and had both hearing and deaf friends. I used sign language interpreters in the classes, but I often spoke for myself and interacted without an interpreter for one-on-one conversations. I was very involved in high school and participated on two varsity sports teams as well as a national diving team, tutored students in math and science subjects, and was a member of the National Honor Society.

I came from a high school that gave me the ability to be a part of the hearing world and the deaf world, and I knew I wanted to go to a college where I could continue to be part of both communities. RIT offers a large population of deaf and hearing students, so I knew it would be where I fit in the best. Here, I don’t have to choose strictly one community over another; instead I have the ability to be part of both. I have met many wonderful people who are open-minded and who are just like me. I find it fascinating and exciting to interact with different groups of people and cultures without any barriers. There are great people here; I have many friends who share similar interests as me and others that don’t, but every one of them makes my days remarkable here at RIT! I am so thankful to be a part of the RIT family. I will remember the wonderful experiences I have had at RIT as I move on to graduate studies in a Doctorate of Physical Therapy degree program at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.

Natalie Snyder

Hometown

Rockville, Maryland

Preferred Communication Mode

Spoken English

I consider myself both a deaf and a hard-of-hearing person. I was born deaf to hearing parents and cannot hear anything without the help from my cochlear implant, but this device is a bridge for me between the hearing and deaf communities. I am fully capable of speaking, signing or a combination of both, and can communicate with anybody independently. 

Growing up, I attended a public high school with a small program for deaf students. I was very outgoing and had both hearing and deaf friends. I used sign language interpreters in the classes, but I often spoke for myself and interacted without an interpreter for one-on-one conversations. I was very involved in high school and participated on two varsity sports teams as well as a national diving team, tutored students in math and science subjects, and was a member of the National Honor Society.

I came from a high school that gave me the ability to be a part of the hearing world and the deaf world, and I knew I wanted to go to a college where I could continue to be part of both communities. RIT offers a large population of deaf and hearing students, so I knew it would be where I fit in the best. Here, I don’t have to choose strictly one community over another; instead I have the ability to be part of both. I have met many wonderful people who are open-minded and who are just like me. I find it fascinating and exciting to interact with different groups of people and cultures without any barriers. There are great people here; I have many friends who share similar interests as me and others that don’t, but every one of them makes my days remarkable here at RIT! I am so thankful to be a part of the RIT family. I will remember the wonderful experiences I have had at RIT as I move on to graduate studies in a Doctorate of Physical Therapy degree program at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.

I attended public schools my whole life and was the only deaf student. I was very outgoing and voted Homecoming Queen in high school.  But in my last semester of senior high, I decided to transfer to the Indiana School for the Deaf, because I never had the opportunity to meet other deaf people my age before, and I wanted to get an idea of what it would be like to be part of a deaf community. I realized I liked being part of both the hearing and deaf worlds.

Cheerleading and tumbling were my passion, and after graduation I was selected to be a dancer for the Indiana Pacers NBA team. However, I felt it was more important for me to continue my education, so I could get a good job for my future.

When searching for a college, most importantly I knew I wanted to find a place where I could be myself, and know that I wouldn't be judged because I was deaf or that I talked "different." I knew I wanted to find a place I could call home, and that was a place that had both deaf and hearing people. When I discovered RIT, I knew I wouldn't be alone, and that the struggles that I had faced my whole life would be somewhat similar to others. I, for once, didn’t feel alone and so "different." I had a gut feeling from the start that when I came to RIT/NTID that I would be accepted for who I am, no matter the circumstances. And my gut feeling was right; RIT is the best choice for me.

Kelly Jo Hilleshiem

Hometown

Columbia City, Indiana

Preferred Communication Mode

Spoken English and Sign Language

I attended public schools my whole life and was the only deaf student. I was very outgoing and voted Homecoming Queen in high school.  But in my last semester of senior high, I decided to transfer to the Indiana School for the Deaf, because I never had the opportunity to meet other deaf people my age before, and I wanted to get an idea of what it would be like to be part of a deaf community. I realized I liked being part of both the hearing and deaf worlds.

Cheerleading and tumbling were my passion, and after graduation I was selected to be a dancer for the Indiana Pacers NBA team. However, I felt it was more important for me to continue my education, so I could get a good job for my future.

When searching for a college, most importantly I knew I wanted to find a place where I could be myself, and know that I wouldn't be judged because I was deaf or that I talked "different." I knew I wanted to find a place I could call home, and that was a place that had both deaf and hearing people. When I discovered RIT, I knew I wouldn't be alone, and that the struggles that I had faced my whole life would be somewhat similar to others. I, for once, didn’t feel alone and so "different." I had a gut feeling from the start that when I came to RIT/NTID that I would be accepted for who I am, no matter the circumstances. And my gut feeling was right; RIT is the best choice for me.

In high school, I attended the same classes as my hearing peers. I worked very hard and was in many honors and AP classes. I was the only deaf person in my high school and the only person with a cochlear implant. My friends accepted me for who I was. I was outgoing and enjoyed my experience, but at times, it was difficult not being able to share common experiences with my friends. In my college search, I wanted to find a college that had an exciting campus with a diverse student body and a good academic reputation. I wanted the opportunity to be involved both academically and socially. But most of all, as a deaf person, I wanted to make sure that there were support services, such as note taking, available to me, and that I would be accepted. I decided on RIT/NTID because I could see myself here from the first day I visited. For the first time in my life, I was not the only deaf student. Many deaf students here shared lots of common experiences with me, and I felt I could be understood. I fit in at RIT/NTID perfectly. It has been the best decision to come here. My friends, both hearing and deaf, are amazing. They interact so well together and are accepting of everyone, no matter what their background.

Christina Rizzetta

Hometown

Galloway, New Jersey

Preferred Communication Mode

Spoken English

In high school, I attended the same classes as my hearing peers. I worked very hard and was in many honors and AP classes. I was the only deaf person in my high school and the only person with a cochlear implant. My friends accepted me for who I was. I was outgoing and enjoyed my experience, but at times, it was difficult not being able to share common experiences with my friends. In my college search, I wanted to find a college that had an exciting campus with a diverse student body and a good academic reputation. I wanted the opportunity to be involved both academically and socially. But most of all, as a deaf person, I wanted to make sure that there were support services, such as note taking, available to me, and that I would be accepted. I decided on RIT/NTID because I could see myself here from the first day I visited. For the first time in my life, I was not the only deaf student. Many deaf students here shared lots of common experiences with me, and I felt I could be understood. I fit in at RIT/NTID perfectly. It has been the best decision to come here. My friends, both hearing and deaf, are amazing. They interact so well together and are accepting of everyone, no matter what their background.

I consider myself a hard-of-hearing person because I have a hearing loss, and I speak well. In middle school, I went to a mainstream school and was picked on by other students because I wore hearing aids, so I lost them on purpose. I decided to attend a high school for deaf students to see if I would fit in better, but I wasn’t culturally accepted there. Fortunately for me, during my junior year, I attended the Explore Your Future summer camp at RIT and discovered not only a major I wanted to pursue, but also a place where I finally belonged. I met wonderful and friendly faculty and staff, and other students with similar backgrounds. I’m so glad I chose RIT. I am involved in many clubs, performing arts and a leader in student government. I’m respected here, and the faculty and staff motivate me and believe in me. I can be myself, love who I am and not be ashamed of my deafness. It doesn’t matter what your background or experiences are related to being deaf, everyone fits in here, just like I do.

Keith Banks

Hometown

Orlando, Florida

Preferred Communication Mode

Spoken English and Sign Language

I consider myself a hard-of-hearing person because I have a hearing loss, and I speak well. In middle school, I went to a mainstream school and was picked on by other students because I wore hearing aids, so I lost them on purpose. I decided to attend a high school for deaf students to see if I would fit in better, but I wasn’t culturally accepted there. Fortunately for me, during my junior year, I attended the Explore Your Future summer camp at RIT and discovered not only a major I wanted to pursue, but also a place where I finally belonged. I met wonderful and friendly faculty and staff, and other students with similar backgrounds. I’m so glad I chose RIT. I am involved in many clubs, performing arts and a leader in student government. I’m respected here, and the faculty and staff motivate me and believe in me. I can be myself, love who I am and not be ashamed of my deafness. It doesn’t matter what your background or experiences are related to being deaf, everyone fits in here, just like I do.

I was the only deaf person in my high school and didn’t receive any support services. I had lots of hearing friends who were my teammates. I didn’t know any sign language and communicated using only my voice. I was shy and quiet. I decided to attend RIT because it had my major, and I wanted to learn about Deaf culture and meet other deaf people like me. Also, RIT has a very diverse community and a welcoming environment. I like that many faculty, staff and students in the RIT community are accepting of deaf people and are interested in learning about Deaf culture. Over the past few years I’ve grown from a shy person to a leader on campus. I have both hearing and deaf friends, and I don’t feel isolated anymore like I did in high school. I fit in, and I love being part of a community.

Ashleen Evans

Hometown

Lebanon, Indiana

Major

Accounting

Preferred Communication Mode

Spoken English

I was the only deaf person in my high school and didn’t receive any support services. I had lots of hearing friends who were my teammates. I didn’t know any sign language and communicated using only my voice. I was shy and quiet. I decided to attend RIT because it had my major, and I wanted to learn about Deaf culture and meet other deaf people like me. Also, RIT has a very diverse community and a welcoming environment. I like that many faculty, staff and students in the RIT community are accepting of deaf people and are interested in learning about Deaf culture. Over the past few years I’ve grown from a shy person to a leader on campus. I have both hearing and deaf friends, and I don’t feel isolated anymore like I did in high school. I fit in, and I love being part of a community.

I view myself as a culturally Deaf person, exclusively using American Sign Language, general gestures and written English to communicate with everyone. For high school, I attended a school for the deaf, and with an interpreter, I went to another mainstream school to take more specialized classes for part of the day. I knew RIT would be a cultural fit, and as I suspected, I fit in perfectly. I have full access to everything on campus, and people at RIT are very accepting of diversity of all kinds. Faculty, staff and students understand and are familiar with deafness, so I’m very comfortable here. Most of my friends are deaf or strong ASL users, but some of my friends are hearing as well. Many of my hearing friends are learning ASL. My friends and I are so active on campus it’s sometimes hard to find time to eat meals together! The atmosphere at RIT is perfect for me.

Graham Forsey

Hometown

St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada

Preferred Communication Mode

American Sign Language

I view myself as a culturally Deaf person, exclusively using American Sign Language, general gestures and written English to communicate with everyone. For high school, I attended a school for the deaf, and with an interpreter, I went to another mainstream school to take more specialized classes for part of the day. I knew RIT would be a cultural fit, and as I suspected, I fit in perfectly. I have full access to everything on campus, and people at RIT are very accepting of diversity of all kinds. Faculty, staff and students understand and are familiar with deafness, so I’m very comfortable here. Most of my friends are deaf or strong ASL users, but some of my friends are hearing as well. Many of my hearing friends are learning ASL. My friends and I are so active on campus it’s sometimes hard to find time to eat meals together! The atmosphere at RIT is perfect for me.

My parents found out I had lost hearing in both my ears at age two. With support from my mom, I worked on my auditory processing and speech, and I kept up with my classmates and excelled in academics, sports and art. I served as president of my high school National Honor Society, captain of the swim team and ran varsity track. My mom suggested I look at RIT. I thought it wouldn’t be the right school for me, but after further research, I found out that I could get access services to benefit me in the classroom. Professors already were experienced in educating deaf and hard-of-hearing students in their classes, so I knew my individual needs would be truly understood by both my professors and peers. When I came to an open house, I knew this was the place for me. This is such a friendly and welcoming school. Many times my friends and I have jokingly called RIT our second home, and it truly is. At RIT, I feel like I have a family away from home, and I couldn’t be more grateful for the RIT family I have.

Sophie Phillips

Hometown

Sleepy Hollow, New York

Preferred Communication Mode

Spoken English

My parents found out I had lost hearing in both my ears at age two. With support from my mom, I worked on my auditory processing and speech, and I kept up with my classmates and excelled in academics, sports and art. I served as president of my high school National Honor Society, captain of the swim team and ran varsity track. My mom suggested I look at RIT. I thought it wouldn’t be the right school for me, but after further research, I found out that I could get access services to benefit me in the classroom. Professors already were experienced in educating deaf and hard-of-hearing students in their classes, so I knew my individual needs would be truly understood by both my professors and peers. When I came to an open house, I knew this was the place for me. This is such a friendly and welcoming school. Many times my friends and I have jokingly called RIT our second home, and it truly is. At RIT, I feel like I have a family away from home, and I couldn’t be more grateful for the RIT family I have.

Growing up, people would call me hard of hearing, but I identify myself as Deaf because both my parents are Deaf, and I was raised in a culturally Deaf family. I went to a mainstream high school with a large group of about 50 other deaf students. There was a group of us who socialized together, but we didn’t share the same interests. When I arrived at an Open House at RIT, I fit in right away. I met other students interested in technology that I connected with, and I met a faculty member who could sign and I was impressed with that.  After my visit to campus, I knew this was the right college for me. I appreciate that RIT faculty understand Deaf culture and that our varied communication needs are met here, and that the college provides great support and access services to help me be successful.

Samuel Sandoval

Hometown

Fairfax, Virginia

Preferred Communication Mode

American Sign Language

Growing up, people would call me hard of hearing, but I identify myself as Deaf because both my parents are Deaf, and I was raised in a culturally Deaf family. I went to a mainstream high school with a large group of about 50 other deaf students. There was a group of us who socialized together, but we didn’t share the same interests. When I arrived at an Open House at RIT, I fit in right away. I met other students interested in technology that I connected with, and I met a faculty member who could sign and I was impressed with that.  After my visit to campus, I knew this was the right college for me. I appreciate that RIT faculty understand Deaf culture and that our varied communication needs are met here, and that the college provides great support and access services to help me be successful.

A lot of people ask me why I decided to travel more than 1,000 miles to RIT for college. RIT has more to offer in terms of accessibility and social opportunity than any other university I looked at during my college search. The fact that nearly 10 percent of RIT’s student population is deaf compared to just a handful of students in my hometown means there’s a greater understanding of deafness and Deaf culture. Rochester also has a large number of deaf people compared to other metro areas in the U.S. Many people in Rochester have been exposed to a deaf person at one point or another, so it’s not such an oddity. It’s awfully nice not to have to explain what “those things” are in my ears or how best to communicate with me. I need to be able to interact with both hearing and deaf alike and RIT provides that interaction in addition to a wonderful supportive community both on and off campus.

Sadie Kulhanek

Hometown

Lincoln, Nebraska

Major

Psychology

Preferred Communication Mode

Spoken English and Sign Language

A lot of people ask me why I decided to travel more than 1,000 miles to RIT for college. RIT has more to offer in terms of accessibility and social opportunity than any other university I looked at during my college search. The fact that nearly 10 percent of RIT’s student population is deaf compared to just a handful of students in my hometown means there’s a greater understanding of deafness and Deaf culture. Rochester also has a large number of deaf people compared to other metro areas in the U.S. Many people in Rochester have been exposed to a deaf person at one point or another, so it’s not such an oddity. It’s awfully nice not to have to explain what “those things” are in my ears or how best to communicate with me. I need to be able to interact with both hearing and deaf alike and RIT provides that interaction in addition to a wonderful supportive community both on and off campus.

I was the only person who was deaf or hard of hearing at my high school. I was a good student, a little shy, with my own group of friends. My entire family and all of my friends at home are hearing, so when I was looking at colleges I wanted a diverse campus and the opportunity to meet and be around deaf people, something I hadn’t had before. I wanted to find a college where I would be accepted in general…I’ve always struggled with finding where I fit in, and sometimes I don’t feel like I belong in either the deaf or hearing world. I also wanted a college that offered a lot of majors since I was undecided which career path to choose. When I discovered RIT, I knew it was pretty much the only college I wanted to attend. And when I first visited the campus I had this amazing feeling that confirmed this was the place I was supposed to be. I applied early decision. I’ve made awesome friends here—both deaf and hearing—and I found a career path in Media Arts and Technology that I love.

Lauren Vergara

Hometown

Queens, New York

Preferred Communication Mode

Spoken English

I was the only person who was deaf or hard of hearing at my high school. I was a good student, a little shy, with my own group of friends. My entire family and all of my friends at home are hearing, so when I was looking at colleges I wanted a diverse campus and the opportunity to meet and be around deaf people, something I hadn’t had before. I wanted to find a college where I would be accepted in general…I’ve always struggled with finding where I fit in, and sometimes I don’t feel like I belong in either the deaf or hearing world. I also wanted a college that offered a lot of majors since I was undecided which career path to choose. When I discovered RIT, I knew it was pretty much the only college I wanted to attend. And when I first visited the campus I had this amazing feeling that confirmed this was the place I was supposed to be. I applied early decision. I’ve made awesome friends here—both deaf and hearing—and I found a career path in Media Arts and Technology that I love.

Going to college with other deaf students wasn’t important to me because I grew up oral in a hearing family and in a mainstream high school. When I first visited campus I felt overwhelmed when I saw some students signing because I couldn’t understand them, but it didn’t change my mind about coming here. I took an American Sign Language class my freshman year and now can communicate with other deaf students who sign. I have a mix of hearing friends and deaf friends who communicate like me at RIT.

Fareed Abolhossani

Hometown

Dracut, Massachusetts

Preferred Communication Mode

Spoken English

Going to college with other deaf students wasn’t important to me because I grew up oral in a hearing family and in a mainstream high school. When I first visited campus I felt overwhelmed when I saw some students signing because I couldn’t understand them, but it didn’t change my mind about coming here. I took an American Sign Language class my freshman year and now can communicate with other deaf students who sign. I have a mix of hearing friends and deaf friends who communicate like me at RIT.

I’m smart and I am capable of doing anything I want. Being deaf means I just have a different way of communicating. The factors important to me in my college search were having a great engineering program, access services for the deaf, interaction with other deaf students because I didn’t have that growing up, a friendly environment and lots of clubs and intramurals to join. RIT has been a great fit. I’ve met so many friends like me from all over America, the engineering program is awesome, and I’m getting outstanding access services that I don’t think I would get any other college. 

Doug Giaccone

Hometown

Enfield, Connecticut

Preferred Communication Mode

Spoken English and Sign Language

I’m smart and I am capable of doing anything I want. Being deaf means I just have a different way of communicating. The factors important to me in my college search were having a great engineering program, access services for the deaf, interaction with other deaf students because I didn’t have that growing up, a friendly environment and lots of clubs and intramurals to join. RIT has been a great fit. I’ve met so many friends like me from all over America, the engineering program is awesome, and I’m getting outstanding access services that I don’t think I would get any other college. 

Before college I was never around other deaf people—there were only two other deaf people in my high school, and I wasn’t friends with them. All of my friends were hearing and so was my family, so I didn’t think of myself as a deaf person. I consider myself a hard-of-hearing person because I talk and use sign language and grew up in a hearing environment. When I visited RIT, I met students here who wore hearing aids, talked and knew some sign language just like me. They had the same experiences as me growing up. For the first time I felt like I fit in and everyone liked me for who I was. I knew at that moment RIT was where I wanted to go to college. 

Lauren Aggen

Hometown

Algonquin, Illinois

Preferred Communication Mode

Spoken English and Sign Language

Before college I was never around other deaf people—there were only two other deaf people in my high school, and I wasn’t friends with them. All of my friends were hearing and so was my family, so I didn’t think of myself as a deaf person. I consider myself a hard-of-hearing person because I talk and use sign language and grew up in a hearing environment. When I visited RIT, I met students here who wore hearing aids, talked and knew some sign language just like me. They had the same experiences as me growing up. For the first time I felt like I fit in and everyone liked me for who I was. I knew at that moment RIT was where I wanted to go to college. 

In high school I was in classes with mostly hearing students, so when I was in the college search process I looked at colleges that offered me the opportunity to be with both hearing and deaf people like me. It also was important that I find a college that offered support services, including speech and audiology services and interpreting. When I visited RIT I felt comfortable right away. Now, I can’t imagine myself at any other college because I don’t think I would have been so successful anyplace else. I really appreciate the access services I receive for my academics, enjoy the social life I have with other deaf and hard-of-hearing students, and like the relationships I have with faculty here. I’m able to communicate easily with students and faculty, and that’s important to me. 

Duncan Lindberg

Hometown

Felton, California

Preferred Communication Mode

Spoken English and Sign Language

In high school I was in classes with mostly hearing students, so when I was in the college search process I looked at colleges that offered me the opportunity to be with both hearing and deaf people like me. It also was important that I find a college that offered support services, including speech and audiology services and interpreting. When I visited RIT I felt comfortable right away. Now, I can’t imagine myself at any other college because I don’t think I would have been so successful anyplace else. I really appreciate the access services I receive for my academics, enjoy the social life I have with other deaf and hard-of-hearing students, and like the relationships I have with faculty here. I’m able to communicate easily with students and faculty, and that’s important to me. 

I was mainstreamed and attended summer camp for deaf and hard-of-hearing students, so I like being a part of both the hearing and deaf worlds. I chose RIT because it was the best fit. It had my major, it offered a great hockey program, and the support for deaf and hard-of-hearing students didn’t compare anywhere else. RIT feels like home. I’m comfortable approaching faculty and staff here—they are always willing to help, and the level of support is exactly what I need to be successful. I didn’t realize how much I would benefit from access services until I started getting them here. 

Joseph Lingle

Hometown

Raleigh, North Carolina

Preferred Communication Mode

Spoken English and Sign Language

I was mainstreamed and attended summer camp for deaf and hard-of-hearing students, so I like being a part of both the hearing and deaf worlds. I chose RIT because it was the best fit. It had my major, it offered a great hockey program, and the support for deaf and hard-of-hearing students didn’t compare anywhere else. RIT feels like home. I’m comfortable approaching faculty and staff here—they are always willing to help, and the level of support is exactly what I need to be successful. I didn’t realize how much I would benefit from access services until I started getting them here. 

I was mainstreamed my whole life and was the only deaf person at my school. I used an FM system and sat in front of the class to help me understand my teachers. Sometimes I would miss the information that was spoken, so I would have the teachers clarify the information for me after class. I was interested in RIT because I knew I would meet people like me who have gone through similar experiences. Because I didn’t know sign language I took a one-week pre-orientation program to learn some basic sign language to help me communicate with other students and faculty and staff who sign. I met so many new friends like me who didn’t know sign language and who went to mainstream schools. We bonded immediately and they are some of my closest friends today at RIT.

David Tawil

Hometown

Eatontown, New Jersey

Preferred Communication Mode

Spoken English

I was mainstreamed my whole life and was the only deaf person at my school. I used an FM system and sat in front of the class to help me understand my teachers. Sometimes I would miss the information that was spoken, so I would have the teachers clarify the information for me after class. I was interested in RIT because I knew I would meet people like me who have gone through similar experiences. Because I didn’t know sign language I took a one-week pre-orientation program to learn some basic sign language to help me communicate with other students and faculty and staff who sign. I met so many new friends like me who didn’t know sign language and who went to mainstream schools. We bonded immediately and they are some of my closest friends today at RIT.

I attended a high school for deaf students, so I wanted to experience a different environment in college. RIT had the full spectrum of deaf, hard-of-hearing and hearing students and the diversity that I was looking for. I also wanted services I could count on inside and outside the classroom to give me the best chance of being successful. The access services, counseling and tutoring resources all have been outstanding here. At RIT, I’m getting a great education in a supportive environment with so many leadership opportunities. It’s been the best college for me.

Corey Burton

Hometown

Fort Wayne, Indiana

Preferred Communication Mode

American Sign Language

I attended a high school for deaf students, so I wanted to experience a different environment in college. RIT had the full spectrum of deaf, hard-of-hearing and hearing students and the diversity that I was looking for. I also wanted services I could count on inside and outside the classroom to give me the best chance of being successful. The access services, counseling and tutoring resources all have been outstanding here. At RIT, I’m getting a great education in a supportive environment with so many leadership opportunities. It’s been the best college for me.

I've never felt like I belonged more than I do here. Everyone is so willing to help whenever I need it. The support and access services I get and the expertise that RIT has working with deaf students mean I no longer feel isolated like in high school. That has given me a sense of relief because RIT is so welcoming of students who are deaf and hard of hearing. It feels great to be part of such a warm place.

Jaime Harter

Hometown

Holden, Missouri

Major

Marketing

Preferred Communication Mode

Spoken English and Sign Language

I've never felt like I belonged more than I do here. Everyone is so willing to help whenever I need it. The support and access services I get and the expertise that RIT has working with deaf students mean I no longer feel isolated like in high school. That has given me a sense of relief because RIT is so welcoming of students who are deaf and hard of hearing. It feels great to be part of such a warm place.

It wasn’t that important for me to attend a college with other deaf and hard-of-hearing students because I grew up in a hearing environment with all hearing friends. I chose RIT because of its strong cooperative education program, outstanding engineering programs and because its graduates get jobs. I also wanted to attend college in another part of the country and learn to become independent. Now that I’m enrolled at RIT, I realize the exposure to other deaf and hard-of-hearing students is a plus, because I’m meeting so many other students like me who shared similar experiences growing up. 

Anthony Scerbo

Hometown

Phoenix, Arizona

Preferred Communication Mode

Spoken English

It wasn’t that important for me to attend a college with other deaf and hard-of-hearing students because I grew up in a hearing environment with all hearing friends. I chose RIT because of its strong cooperative education program, outstanding engineering programs and because its graduates get jobs. I also wanted to attend college in another part of the country and learn to become independent. Now that I’m enrolled at RIT, I realize the exposure to other deaf and hard-of-hearing students is a plus, because I’m meeting so many other students like me who shared similar experiences growing up. 

I felt I could fit in at any college, but RIT really stood out to me in my college search because it has outstanding communication access and a friendly learning environment loaded with deaf students like me. I felt that the opportunity to interact with a large deaf community on campus was a once-in-a-life-time chance. RIT has been a perfect match for me. Seeing how other deaf people go about things has taught me a lot, and I learn from them. That's definitely helping me succeed because I'm learning from people who share the same identity as I do. RIT is above and beyond all of my expectations. I've gotten so much exposure to wonderful people, and I wouldn't be the same person if I didn't go here. I'm pretty grateful that I'm calling RIT home!

Sean (Skip) Flanagan

Hometown

Framingham, Massachusetts

Major

Psychology

Preferred Communication Mode

American Sign Language

I felt I could fit in at any college, but RIT really stood out to me in my college search because it has outstanding communication access and a friendly learning environment loaded with deaf students like me. I felt that the opportunity to interact with a large deaf community on campus was a once-in-a-life-time chance. RIT has been a perfect match for me. Seeing how other deaf people go about things has taught me a lot, and I learn from them. That's definitely helping me succeed because I'm learning from people who share the same identity as I do. RIT is above and beyond all of my expectations. I've gotten so much exposure to wonderful people, and I wouldn't be the same person if I didn't go here. I'm pretty grateful that I'm calling RIT home!

When I was searching for a college, I wanted to find a place that accepted me for me because people in my high school didn’t understand my hearing loss, and I was treated differently. I never felt like I belonged. I’m smart, I just can’t hear, but kids in my high school couldn’t understand that. When I visited RIT, I met another hard-of-hearing student like me, and we connected right away. I knew if I could make a connection that fast that I had found my home at RIT. I’m so happy here. The entire campus community is open and accepting of deaf and hard-of-hearing students. I fit in perfectly. 

Arielle Hirsch

Hometown

Oceanside, New York

Preferred Communication Mode

Spoken English

When I was searching for a college, I wanted to find a place that accepted me for me because people in my high school didn’t understand my hearing loss, and I was treated differently. I never felt like I belonged. I’m smart, I just can’t hear, but kids in my high school couldn’t understand that. When I visited RIT, I met another hard-of-hearing student like me, and we connected right away. I knew if I could make a connection that fast that I had found my home at RIT. I’m so happy here. The entire campus community is open and accepting of deaf and hard-of-hearing students. I fit in perfectly.