Heart to Heart

Do you have exciting plans for the holidays? I hope you’re staying warm, drinking hot chocolate, and having some fun in the snow (if you have any)! This break seems strange and special, being the first year I won’t  have to study or work on a project over holiday break, because of the new semester schedule. I must admit I left feeling relaxed, excited, and VERY happy I didn’t have to load up my suitcase with books for the flight home!

You may already know that I had a heart transplant when I was one week old. Now that I go to adult hospitals, I NEVER meet infants who have had a transplant. Just recently, I had an opportunity to meet a one-year-old named Blake, who had a transplant when he was 3 months old. Our connection began last year when I saw Blake’s story on the news in Rochester and was inspired by it. My parents often said one of their greatest challenges was there was no history of infants who had transplants, because I was born the year the transplant program began in Chicago! I never had a transplant model to look up to when I was born, and I wanted to encourage Blake and his family. I am sure that Blake will have a wonderful life ahead of him. I look forward to hearing all the wonderful things Blake will do, living life to the fullest with a new heart! I brought the family a copy of “Austin’s Gift, the Life of a Grateful Organ Recipient,” my autobiography, hoping some of my recollections would bring some enjoyment.

Below is a picture from my visit with Blake. Isn’t he cute? On Christmas day, our story will be aired on YNN News and I hope to be able to share the video with you next time I write a blog.

In the meantime, have a FANTASTIC holiday with your family.


A Stroll Down Memory Lane

As I wrap up my final semester here at RIT, I look back at the last five years and what a ride it’s been. RIT has been the best chapters and I know that in years to come when I reflect back on my college experience, I’ll have countless memories. The last four and one-half years here have been surreal and life changing. Here are some of my greatest memories here:

– Finding my place here at RIT: Like many other students, I came in college with a heavy past I yearned to leave behind. I wanted a chance to start over and I got that here at RIT. Coming into RIT, I barely knew anyone outside of a handful of students I went to high school with or met through summer camps. During orientation, I made new friends, many who I met at the start of the year, and who I’ve wound up remaining close with today. They helped define a significant part of who I am today, and I cannot thank them enough for that.

-Running a student organization: I became the president of an organization here, the Asian Deaf Club, my second year here. It was a lot of hard work, more than I had imagined but with an excellent team supporting me, we accomplished more than I could have asked for. It was a huge step for my self-esteem and opened my eyes to my abilities. I’m grateful I had the opportunity to take the club at the helm for a year, as the experience gained was invaluable and one of the best accomplishments was looking back at everything after a full year and thinking, “Wow, I did a pretty good job here”.

– Joining a fraternity: It was one of the best decisions I made here. I joined my third year after careful thinking and ever since I said yes, I haven’t looked back since. I cannot tell you how many times I look at a fellow brother, see our relationship, look back and think, “Wow, we’re so close now.” I had a classmate in my class back in my first year here and I found him really odd. Fast-forward four years later, and I’m calling him my brother, enjoying his company as my perspective on people drastically changed. I have learned to not judge people and to see the good in everybody. Nobody is perfect and that’s okay. My fraternity is far from being the perfect shining model on campus, but I’m okay with that because perfection is boring these days, right? The bond I’ve developed with the most diverse people you’d ever meet has ended up to be worth it in the end, as their hearts go much further and beyond than sheer perfection.

– Living in the dorms, then an apartment, then a house: Living in the dorms honestly wasn’t as bad as most might make it out to be. Sure, you’re stuck on a freshman meal plan and don’t have a kitchen, so what? The dorms were the best way to interact with people your age and I loved how I could easily visit friends a few floors away or just barge in someone’s room to hang out. When I lived in an apartment, I realized how much harder it was to visit friends. You had to really make an effort and then when I moved to a house, I was virtually isolated. At the same time, I liked having my own space with a couple of awesome roommates and a kitchen! Yet, it was hard to have people come over, especially if they didn’t have a car! In the end, I enjoyed living in different areas and it was an enriching experience (better than living at home with your parents, right?).

-The day I decided I’d go to RIT: I was hesitant about which college I wanted as I had a short list. One of them was in Seattle, and I had this vibe my parents were pushing me to go there since it was their alma mater. The others were well known schools for their programs, but came at a price I found a little too high. Then came RIT. I had always known about it, having the admissions counselor come to my school every year to talk about RIT. I was interested but not THAT interested until that counselor showed us what our future could be like. The list of jobs after graduation was beyond great, it was outstanding and I was hooked but not reeled in just yet. One of my friends, who I’ve known since our freshman year of high school, had committed early to RIT. He asked if I did the same, and I hesitated. I didn’t want to say ye,s because this was a big decision. It was going to impact my life and my future. A while later in the year, I had finally made my decision. I wanted to do something radical, something different, and give myself the chance to start fresh. So one day I got home from school, I told my parents, trying to sound cool about it, “Yeah, I think I’m going to RIT.” The rest is history.

I have a couple more but I don’t want to talk on and on! I have RIT to thank for a lot, and to all of my friends/family for supporting me. Going to school here has definitely helped shape me as a person and working in the Admissions office with a great team has been a very enjoyable experience. I plan on visiting once in a while though, and the next chapter of my life begins once I board the plane tonight en route to Seattle!

Finals and Then Home!

Hello again,

Since I blogged last, I turned in about three final papers, attended a few individual meetings, did a live interpretation in class, gave a presentation, and turned 21! Like I mentioned before, I celebrated with my family at my surprise party. As promised, here are a few pictures from that night:


(me walking in, totally surprised! Hugging my mom and my dad)


(above and below, pictures with my cousins)



Now that everyone was back on campus, I wanted to celebrate my birthday with my friends! We had a small celebration at my house, and then the next morning I was taken out to breakfast, got my nails done, watched a Christmas movie, and so much more! It was an amazing birthday! Trying to squeeze in some birthday fun was tough with everyone’s schedule being so busy, but we did it!

Tomorrow is the “Reading Day”, which means there are no classes and it is a day solely for studying (and much needed 🙂 ). I think I might have to get up early to get a spot in the library, I can only imagine how packed it is going to be!

As for finals I have: an exam for “K-12 Interpreting,” an exam for “2nd Language Acquisition and Bilingualism,” “Interpreting 1,” “Language and Culture” and a final meeting where I have to prove my grade for my “Ethical Applications” class. Yikes! Just typing it out makes me stressed! You should see my room–it is a mess of papers and binders, notebooks and flashcards! It is going to be one busy weekend!

I am going to try and take a study break and go to the Frozen Frontier this Saturday. It is when the men’s (vs. Niagara) and women’s hockey (vs. Clarkson)  teams play in an outside arena in Downtown Rochester! And because it is off campus, RIT is providing a free bus! I’m going to take advantage of that! I really need to dress warm…it snows just about everyday now!

Do you all know what Freezefest is? It is a weekend in February where there are all kinds of fun activities including a comedian! They announced who the comedian would be today–it is John Oliver! He is on The Daily Show with John Stewart and he is also on the show Community! I’ll be sure to buy tickets for that!

I hope all of you have happy holidays, and if you are traveling, get to your destination safely!

Thanksgiving, 21, and Nearing the End

Hi guys!
It’s been a while since I last blogged on here! I went home for Thanksgiving, enjoyed a few plates of my aunt’s cooking, slept in my own bed, and played with my dogs till they fell asleep on the couch. Then it was back to reality. I still have ways to go with my co-op, I have hours to rack up before the semester ends. I also have a final paper to write by Friday. Things will get a tad hectic before it ends. But I had the best reason to procrastinate on my paper….it was my 21st birthday! My mom happened to be in town for my birthday, so she took me out to Red Robin for a big dinner with my friends. It was a really nice way to kick back and enjoy my friends’ company before we all go back to our stressful academic lives!

Today, I woke up at 6 a.m. to run the team mile with the baseball team, napped, and ate a ton! I also logged the hours for my co-op, tried driving to work…it was snowing so much that it took me 20 minutes to get past the bookstore from my apartment. The conditions were brutal, and I didn’t want to risk getting in an accident, so I had to head back to my apartment. Weather forecast shows that it’s going to snow every day this week. It’s going to be a long winter!

Until then, rock on!


My Best Memories From Washington, D.C.!

Hey there!

I am gonna share with you all about my awesome experience in Washington, D.C. It was really, really, really fun and one of the best experiences in my life. First of all, I want to thank the NTID community, especially NTID President Gerry Buckley, for asking me to Washington, D.C. to participate in the Youth Summit. It was a huge opportunity for me to learn something new and to meet new people from around the country. During the summit we discussed different health issues and the Affordable Care Act (ACA). It was a long day!


The summit was held in a huge building named the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. Guess what? I saw President Obama. The ASL interpreter said please shout out and cheer big for someone. I was puzzled until I saw someone entering the stage. It was President Obama!!! I saw him with my own eyes! It was the best memory in my entire life!


And guess what else? The next day I got a White House Tour. It was beautifully decorated with many Christmas decorations and different Christmas trees. The White House was built in 1792, so there were many historical and interesting things I saw on my tour.


This is a photo of me (far left) and another RIT/NTID student Lakeisha Brown (second from right) standing behind the White House with some students we met from another university.

I hope you enjoyed my best blog ever!




Back on Campus!

Hey guys,
It has been a while since the last time I blogged, but a ton of stuff has happened. First off, working Black Friday was insane. It was a great chance to see all my work friends again, but the hours were long and hard. I worked two shifts on Black Friday, as well as one more shift the following Saturday. While it was fun, by the end I was definitely tired. So the drive down and back from home was definitely worth it.

While home I got to see my family including my parents and my siblings. In addition to that I got to finally see my dogs again. While most families might have one, two, or even three dogs, my family has six! Most of which are even deaf. That is something that I miss from home, my pets.

But by the end of break, I was starting to miss school and my friends and the following Monday could not have come sooner. And just like that, classes had started again and the week had begun. Some classes were cancelled, while others were replaced with one on one meetings with my professors, but overall a great week. To relax at the end of the week, a friend and I went to see RIT’s hockey team play live at Ritter Arena. Not only was the atmosphere loud and booming, we won!

While the semester is coming to a close, I can definitely see everyone’s energy slowing depleting (mine as well). But with just a few short weeks left, the end is near and the excitement of new classes and courses arrives.


Take the Time to Donate Blood

I hope you had a FANTASTIC Thanksgiving! I know I am still stuffed from all the food I ate! For the first time ever, I went to an NBA game during Thanksgiving break, and I had a wonderful time with my family! The best part was that the Chicago Bulls, my home team, won!

My most recent accomplishment at RIT/NTID would have to be selling ALL of my homemade cupcakes during Pulse Happy Hour, and having the money go to a benefit for my friend Alex’s medical bills. Pulse Happy Hour occurs bi-weekly on Fridays and takes place in the CSD Student Development Center. All the clubs get a table and have the opportunity to promote their organizations. It’s a great event where you can make new friends and find out about upcoming happenings that are hosted by a variety of clubs. Below is a picture of one of the customers who brought my cupcake. I am grateful for the people who support others in need, like student ambassador Stephanie Kiessling.
photo (82)
Recently, I became a member of Alpha Phi Omega, a co-ed service fraternity and now have the opportunity to continue as hockey chairperson. That means I am in charge of gathering my “brothers” to usher at the hockey games. It’s so much fun, because we get to watch the game for free, and wear really warm bright orange jackets that say “STAFF” on the back. Our job is to inspect the aisles every so often to make sure nothing is getting in the way, in case of a fire hazard.
Next week, I will be volunteering at a blood drive on campus. I am excited because many years ago, my life was saved thanks to blood donors. I am glad to be giving back to the community by supporting such a noble cause. Everyone is busy with finals and the holiday season, making the need for blood more critical. There are many terrific people here who take the time to help others, and I am proud to call them friends.
I better get back to studying.  Finals are getting closer!

It Was a Wonderful Break!

Hello again,

We are back at school, getting back into the swing of things. It was so nice to have a break from school and be able to see my family. However, it was a bit weird today when I couldn’t sleep in, and had to go to class, rather than a eat homemade breakfast!I think it will take me a few days to get back into my regular schedule. I don’t have a few days though–the semester is coming to a close so quickly!

I had two Tthanksgivings this year, and I ate so much! I ate at 1 pm and then again at 4 pm! Guess I’ll have to get back into going to the gym:) I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!

When I was home, my parents threw me a surprise birthday party! It is my birthday this coming weekend, and they wanted to celebrate it with me, so we did it a bit early. It was such an amazing time! All my family was there, including all my cousins that I don’t get to see often. It was catered by my favorite Italian restaurant and even had a DJ! I had no clue about the party either! It was a complete, and wonderful, surprise! I found out that my parents sent out invitations and everything! Here is a picture of the invite:


I haven’t gotten the photos yet from the party, but I will be sure to upload a few on my next post!

My roommates and I are going to decorate our apartment with Christmas decorations soon! I’ll be sure to show you guys the final product!

Well, I have to go do an interpreting assignment now! (It’s actually my first video where I will be interpreting in both ASL and English.) Wish me luck!

Stay warm!