Commissioner Heidi L. Reed from the Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (MCDHH) visited Northern Essex Community College recently to honor two Lawrence students who have been participating in the Commission’s Summer Transition to Work Program.
The Transition to Work Program is a collaborative effort made possible through a federal grant and a partnership between the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission and the Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. The Program’s goal is to increase deaf and hard of hearing students’ exposure to the workforce, gain new skills, and become marketable professionals. The program provided financial stipends to the student interns as well as job coaching.
The students, Caroline Garcia and Kellynette Gomez, who are both hard of hearing, spent the summer working in Northern Essex Community College’s Gallaudet University Regional Center (GURC).
Commissioner Reed presented the two young women with certificates recognizing their contributions and also spoke about the success of the Summer Transition to Work Program, which was started two years ago.
“This program is a pioneering initiative. We want to support people in transition to paying work. We also want to make people aware of how deaf and hard of hearing people can contribute in the workplace,” said Reed.
Garcia is a senior in the EDCO Program for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing at Newton North High School. Gomez is a 2012 graduate of the EDCO Program and is now a freshman at Gallaudet University in Washington DC.
The students had quite a valuable experience this summer. “This opportunity has changed my life” said Garcia, “I learned there are many things I can do.” Gomez added, “I really felt like I was part of the office team and learned many skills I can apply both at home and in college”. Both students benefited from the experience of using the public transportation in Lawrence and Haverhill as well.
Located on NECC’s Haverhill Campus, GURC is one of six regional centers located across the country. Its goal is to bring the resources of Gallaudet University, a university for deaf and hard of hearing students located in Washington, DC to the Northeast Region.
GURC offers training workshops, technical assistance and extension courses for professionals and family members. In addition, GURC runs a monthly Shared Reading Saturday Program in Lawrence, teaching families with deaf and hard of hearing children how to read children’s books using American Sign Language.
The students were involved in a number of projects over the summer including selecting a popular children’s storybook to sign on video for inclusion in the Shared Reading Saturday program. They were also involved in creating a searchable data base for the lending library, transferring videos from the lending library onto DVDs, and preparing materials and books for GURC’s Shared Reading Saturday Program.
Aimee Stevens, project coordinator of NECC’s Gallaudet University Regional Center, supervised the student interns and found the program to be a great success. “Not only were we able to support deaf and hard of hearing students and help them gain the skills they need to be successful, but we also benefited from having two motivated and creative young women working in the office this summer.”