Conniree Francis

Much of Alaska’s beauty comes from its solitude. But when you’re the only hard-of-hearing student in your mainstream high school in Chugiak, Alaska, that solitude can motivate you to look for a place where you’ll find others who have similar experiences. And like many students, Conniree Francis spent her last year of high school searching for a college with the right ‘fit’ for her.

“I wasn't too certain that I would stay in Alaska to attend college,” the 25-year-old explains. “Then my VR counselor, Andrew Jose, told me about RIT/NTID and his experience when he attended there. He said that the services for deaf and hard-of-hearing students were wonderful, and he showed me a video about the campus with information on majors, campus diversity, as well as the various services and activities that all students benefit from. After viewing the clip, my family and I decided that RIT/NTID would be the best place for me.”

Francis, a RIT Business Management graduate, is a second-year student in the Master of Science program in Secondary Education for Students who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing. She decided to enter the MSSE program because it offers dual certification that will allow her to teach deaf and hard of hearing students as well as hearing students.

“I can work in either a residential school for the deaf or in mainstream public schools,” she says.

Of her growth through the MSSE program, Francis says, “I had to keep in mind that there would be times when I’d be given constructive criticism. I use that feedback to enhance my teaching skills. It helps give me confidence for my time in the classroom.”

For Conniree Francis, the solitude and beauty of Alaska have been replaced by the beauty of teaching other deaf and hard-of-hearing students.

This story appeared in the Fall/Winter 2009 issue of FOCUS Magazine.

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