Ryan Harter

“I always expected to go to college,” says Ryan Harter, a second-year Computer Aided Drafting Technology (CADT) student, from Coral Gables, Fla. “My paternal great-grandparents were deaf as were some of my uncles and cousins. I am the first deaf person in my family to graduate high school and go to college. I know my greatgrandmother would expect me to go. My family has always supported me and told me I can do anything. I want to be successful and make them all proud.”

Harter, 20, came to his major naturally. As a child, he loved building things and drawing as well as working with computers. His exhaustive college research and final selection of RIT gave him the technical program he wanted.

Last summer, Harter combined guidance from the NTID Center on Employment and some networking at home to land a cooperative work experience at an architectural firm in Ft. Lauderdale. Harter worked as a CAD technician and did some three-dimensional work on a Broward County Library project. He also had the unique opportunity to use his AutoCAD skills to work on a deaf cluster building for the Palm Beach School District, designing classrooms with appropriate visibility and other design elements with good access for deaf students.

“I really used the skills I learned at college, and I learned other drafting programs as well,” says Harter. “Each skill I learned at RIT was useful, and I used it on the job. It was a good experience, and I really enjoyed it very much. I liked getting the paycheck, too!”

A self-described movie fan and video game enthusiast, Harter is an officer of the Delta Sigma Phi fraternity, and enjoys basketball, swimming and weightlifting.

“RIT is a great place to get an education and make lifelong friends,” says Harter. “And you can get involved here in any way you want—clubs, sports, fraternities, you name it.”

He plans to graduate in 2007 with an AAS in CADT, then continue on for his BS in Civil Engineering, and may even see a master’s degree in his future.

“You can accomplish much, if you really try,” says Harter. “Never give up.”

This story appeared in the Fall/Winter 2006 issue of FOCUS Magazine.

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