Deaf Culture shapes student's career path

April 10, 2017


Emily HamstraOur students often tell us they are motivated to work in criminal justice because they want to serve their communities and use their talents and skills to make a difference. Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice student Emily Hamstra has that same passion, but also brings a unique skill to her service—she is a registered American Sign Language Interpreter.

Both of Hamstra’s parents are deaf and, while she and her older brother are not, American Sign Language was the primary language used in their home. Hamstra built on that personal experience by completing professional interpreter training while working on her associate degree in liberal arts at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She now works as a Sign Language Interpreter for the Madison Metropolitan School District.

“Growing up with deaf parents was amazing. I feel like my life is so enriched with deaf culture and experiences that I may not have had if I didn't have deaf parents. I feel very blessed,” Hamstra said.

Balancing school with her duties as an interpreter and mother of three have not always been easy, but good time management and organizational practices have made all the difference, along with support from her family and friends, and the faculty and staff at UW-Platteville.

“Overall, all the instructors within the Criminal Justice Program are fabulous,” Hamstra said. “It also helps to have an amazing advisor. I've been very fortunate to have a phenomenal advisor; she's one of my biggest cheerleaders.”

Hamstra’s advisor, Kalyn Williams, believes one of the keys to their relationship is Hamstra’s willingness to ask questions and talk through her course options, which has helped the two of them create a personalized degree plan.

“Emily has a passion for learning,” Williams said. “I talk to her at least once a semester, and I can say that I truly look forward to our conversations because I can see how much she values education and goes above and beyond to stay on top of everything. She is an awesome student to work with!”

Hamstra expects to graduate in spring 2018. While she said she is not entirely sure where her degree will take her, she is excited for the possibilities it will present. “I feel that having my degree will open doors for me that otherwise would not be there.”

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