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Past Speakers

2019 - Stephanie Vik

Stephanie Vik, Lead Web Designer
RYNO Strategic Solutions, Phoenix, Arizona

Brave enough to travel across the country, Stephanie came to RIT/NTID to pursue her dream of being a designer. She graduated with a bachelor's degree in Graphic Media Publishing with a minor in Advertising. While working full-time at a commercial real estate brokerage firm, she freelanced and designed hundreds of blogs and websites. Stephanie is celebrating her 6th anniversary with RYNO Strategic Solutions, a full-service nationwide Internet marketing company. She resides in North Phoenix with her dogs and boyfriend, anxiously waiting for her sister Lauren to graduate from RIT!

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Photo of Michelle Koplitz
2018 - Michelle Koplitz

A 2008 graduate of RIT, Michelle Koplitz works for the U.S Department of Health and Human Services as a project officer for the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) program. Health-minded, Michelle earned her Master’s degree in Health Education and Health Communications, worked at the Society for Public Health Education, and is a certified yoga instructor and SCUBA diver. Michelle has served on the board of the Deaf in Government non-profit organization and currently lives in Washington, DC. 

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Head and shoulders shot of man in front of motorcycle. Man is squinting into the sun, has dark receding hair, goatee, red button-down shirt and dark tie.
2017 - Mark Davis

Mark Davis is a computer numerical control (CNC) machinist at East Side Machine, Inc. in Webster, New York. He earned his associate degree in Computer Integrated Machining Technology (CIMT) from RIT/NTID in 2004 and got his dream job at West Coast Choppers custom motorcycle shop in Long Beach, California. Mark earned a bachelor’s degree in applied arts and sciences from RIT in 2017 and resides with his family in Greece, New York.

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Sasha, a brown Indian woman, has brown eyes and medium length dark brown hair with bangs. She is wearing rose-gold saree with traditional Indian necklaces and a bindi. Sasha is smiling in front of a blurred olive green and white backdrop.
2017 - Sasha Lakshmi Ponappa

Sasha Lakshmi Ponappa has been an advocate for more than a decade to eradicate violence within Deaf communities in Rochester, New York, Oakland, California, and Washington, D.C. She is the director for the Program for Deaf Adults at LaGuardia Community College, where she supports deaf, hard-of-hearing and deafblind students in furthering their educational goals, and making their collegiate experience inclusive and accessible. Ponappa received her bachelor's degree in social work from Rochester Institute of Technology and her master’s degree in social work from Gallaudet University, and lives in New York City with her husband, two children and a fur-baby, and is a proud member of the beautiful and vibrant Deaf culture. 

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2016 - Thomas Otto-Bruc

Thomas Otto-Bruc - Owner, Route 66 Promotions

Thomas Otto-Bruc is the owner and founder of Route 66 Promotions, a company that specializes in screen printing, embroidery, promotional services and design services. Mr. Otto-Bruc earned an associate’s degree in business technology from RIT/NTID in 2004. After graduating from RIT, he became a real estate broker for Rent Manhattan in New York City, New York and later became owner of a QuickDrop Ebay Store in Tampa, Florida. He currently serves as a partner and board member of Convo Relay Service and a board member of Deaf, Inc. Mr. Otto-Bruc and his family reside in St. Louis, Missouri.

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Photo of Pamela Siebert
2016 - Pamela Siebert

Pamela Siebert - Software Engineer,  IBM

Pamela was born to Deaf parents and raised in Saint Paul, MN. She graduated from RIT in 2003 with a bachelor’s degree in information technology. She accepted a job at IBM in Lenexa, Kansas as a software engineer. In 2009, Pamela earned her master’s degree in software development and management from RIT. She is passionate about volunteering for the Kansas Association for the Deaf Board and was Miss Deaf Kansas from 2005-2007.

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Photo of Andreas Wezel-Peterson
2015 - Andreas Wezel-Peterson

Andreas Wezel-Peterson – Communications Designer, Disney Consumer Products

Andreas Wezel-Peterson was born and raised in Germany and is presently living in Los Angeles. He is a Communications Designer on the Internal Corporate Communications team at Disney Consumer Products, a segment of The Walt Disney Company, in Glendale, California. Andreas leads all the design communiqués, from logo to brand, from print to digital, and from magazine to email newsletter for over 3,000 employees (including executives) as well as consumers across North America, keeping a multi-disciplinary approach to all of his projects. He earned a bachelor's degree from RIT'S College of Imaging Arts and Sciences and is currently pursuing a master's degree in Graphic Design at Savannah College of Arts Design.

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2015 - Steven Forney

Steven Forney – SMAP Research Associate

Steven Forney of Huntsville, Alabama is currently working for Systems Management and Production Center (SMAP) as Research Associate. SMAP is one of largest research departments at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH).  He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). For the last ten years, his experiences with reverse engineering, internships at the UAH, gain of education and knowledge at RIT provided him the opportunities to work in the area of technology innovation; 3D printing and multi-rotors drone technology. He is currently pursuing Master's Degree in Human-Computer Interaction at the RIT for online graduate program.

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Photo of Kimberly Dodge   Photo of Jennifer Miller
2014 - Dr. Kimberly Dodge, DVM and Dr. Jennifer Miller, DVM ( RIT’ 06)

Kimberly Dodge, DVM
Dr. Dodge provides emergency Veterinarian services at the Veterinary Specialists & Emergency Service clinic located in Rochester, NY. She is a graduate of Michigan State University, Dr. Dodge received her B.S. Degree in Zoology in 1995 and her DVM Degree in 1999. Dr. Dodge is co-founder and former board member of the Association of Medical Professionals with Hearing Loss. She also works to mentor young deaf individuals who are interested in health care related careers.

Jennifer Miller, DVM
Dr. Miller is a small animal Veterinarian at Walworth Animal Hospital located near her hometown of Macedon NY. She grew up in a mainstream school system and went to RIT for her Bachelors degree in biology, an was an RA in EPB for 3 years. Dr. Miller played soccer for RIT and has a gold medal from deaf olympics (Australia 2005). She then went on to Michigan State for her degree in Veterinary Medicine in 2010. Outside of work, Dr. Miller enjoys life on her farm with her husband and 3 small children and various pets.

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Photo of Jarrod Musano
2014 - Jarrod Musano

Jarrod Musano, CEO of Convo Relay and Infini, attended Rochester Institute of Technology and went on to University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. His education and daily challenges have led him to a number of successful start-ups, being responsible for driving and implementing strategic plans for all his companies.

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