Melanie Updegraff

“Know your limits, but be willing to push them” is a philosophy that Melanie Updegraff, 35, second-year student in NTID’s American Sign Language-English Interpretation program incorporates into her everyday life.

A typical day for Melanie is going to class, then working in the NTID Business Studies Department as a student assistant, being the assistant innkeeper at a local bed and breakfast, and creating jewelry to sell in a venture she has with a business partner.

Born in Washington, D.C., Melanie moved a lot while growing up as her father worked at a number of schools for the deaf. She says home is wherever she happens to be.

“I come from a family very involved in deaf education and the deaf community wherever we went, yet we’ve had no deaf people in our family,” says Melanie. “I tried other careers, but just did not have the passion I felt I needed. I thought about interpreting for years, but wanted to explore other things before deciding on such a demanding profession.

“After talking with a few friends and graduates of RIT/NTID, I realized that interpreting was what I wanted to do, and this was the place to do it.”

In her spare time, Melanie, a self-confessed “movie junkie,” prefers dinner, a movie, and conversation with friends. Life after graduation will involve interpreting in a variety of community settings.

This story appeared in the Fall/Winter 2005 issue of FOCUS Magazine.

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