Keith Banks

Before coming to RIT, this 21-year-old was crowned Mr. Deaf Teen America, signed the National Anthem at the Pro Bowl, and created a fictional character called “Mrs. Kathy ‘Mama’ Banks,” who is so popular with his peers, he wrote a full-length play about her.

Meet Keith Banks, a third-year student in the Associate+Bachelor’s Degree program in Hospitality and Service Management. Growing up in Orlando, Florida, Banks says he always knew he wanted to pursue a career in the tourism industry.

“It fits my personality,” he says. “I like interacting with all kinds of people, and I love to travel.”

This outgoing young man says a vibrant student life on campus, the opportunity to interact with both deaf and hearing students and outstanding access services were important factors in his decision to choose RIT.

He serves as an NTID Senator on the RIT Student Government, has participated in two RIT/NTID plays and was president of NTID’s Masquers Drama Club, which sponsors NTID’s performance group Dangerous Signs, a group he performs with annually. He also was presented the 2014 Dawan L. Abritton Humanitarian Award from the RIT/NTID community.

“I think the best things about RIT/NTID are the sense of community here and the friendships you develop and the connections you make with faculty and staff,” says Banks. “Everyone is so welcoming.”

Last year, Banks participated in the Disney College Program, a five-month internship where he got valuable on-the-job experience in his field. He worked at Pizzafari Restaurant in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park where he held various roles.

“I loved going to work every day and meeting all the new people from around the world and making everybody’s day special,” he says.

His goal is to someday manage a department at Walt Disney World and return to RIT to recruit students who are deaf or hard-of-hearing for co-ops and employment.

This story appeared in the Spring/Summer 2014 issue of FOCUS Magazine.

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