I must encourage you, if you’re a junior in high school, to look into the EYF (Explore your Future) Program here at RIT/NTID. Attending that camp gave me the confidence to pursue a degree at RIT/NTID. The idea of attending college intimidated me at that point in my life and I am astonished at the number of wonderful experiences I almost missed due too my lack of conviction. If you’re an incoming freshmen with a hearing loss, and don’t know sign language, I highly recommend you participate in the New Signers Program before your first year of college begins. I know I wish they had that program when I entered RIT/NTID. I envy those who will still be at RIT next year, because the new hockey rink will be open! I guess I’ll have to come back to RIT for a homecoming game, and check out the new arena! In case you haven’t seen the outside of the arena. IT IS MASSIVE!
On a fun note, this past weekend, I went camping with some of my sorority sisters. It was the first time I had ever camped in my life! It was a blast! Below is a picture of me with my “little” who I will keep mentoring, throughout her college career.
I can’t believe it’s almost the end of my last semester! Where has the time gone? It’s unbelievable how much I have grown since I first came to RIT. I am truly grateful to everyone who has helped me get to where I am today. When I was born, my parents were told by the doctors that I had three days to live, unless I received a life-saving heart transplant. Here I am today, 24 years later, soon to graduate from RIT.
I am grateful to the numerous professors and advisers who supported me throughout my college career. I can never forget the fact that they helped one of my most ambitious dreams come true: publishing my autobiography. One professor who has been very special to me, Mrs. Toscano, just this week was awarded the Four Presidents Award. I felt honored to witness her accept the well deserved recognition. The professors and staff here are amazing, and they will help you find advantages to prepare you into the future.
I look forward to signing the National Anthem at convocation. It’s going to be bittersweet! I truly feel like I will be similar to “Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat” with the various color stoles that I will be wearing on graduation day, each representing a special set of memories. I’m looking forward to it!
If I could leave you with one piece of advice, I would tell you to try everything available during your time in college. Take advantage of the resources and activities special to your school. College is about discovering yourself. For me, the quote from Ezekiel has been meaningful from my first days of life right through to today: “I will give you a New Heart and a New Spirit.” It was only through the amazing and divergent opportunities here at RIT/NTID that I truly discovered the energy within myself. When I entered the EYF Program, I was recognized at the Spirit Writing Contest. Just recently, I was awarded the Spirit Award at a banquet. These reveal the hidden meaning in the passage: that while my physical spirit is powerful, the activities here have empowered a bigger spirit within me. Thank you RIT/NTID!