Mark Feder

One of the nice things about being a college that has been around for 43 years is that the stories of the “early days” are still being told by those who were there.

One of those NTID pioneers is Mark Feder. The recipient of NTID’s 2011 Distinguished Alumni Award clearly remembers visiting RIT as a junior in high school, and the impact that visit had on him.

“I fell in love with RIT/NTID,” says Feder, a Chicago, Ill., native. “[NTID Founding Director] Dr. Frisina spoke to us, and told us that we would be in a ‘fish bowl’—meaning that we’d be watched very carefully to see if we would succeed. We all knew that coming to RIT/NTID would change our lives. I was reborn here.”

Growing up in a hearing family and attending mainstream schools, Feder was used to the interaction between deaf and hearing people, and quickly took on leadership positions in the new college, becoming the first vice-president of the NTID Student Congress in 1971, and the second president of NSC in 1972. He also was president of the NTID Drama Club in 1975, NTID liaison for NSC to the RIT Student Association and served as a resident advisor.  

“Those leadership experiences gave me confidence,” he says. “I learned how to be approachable and to be fearless, and I learned how to keep my deaf identity in a hearing world.”

Those skills, along with associate and bachelor’s degrees in Business Administration – Accounting, helped Feder become the owner/controller of B.E. Atlas Company; a family-owned wholesale hardware distributor that sells to more than 2,500 independent retailers, plumbers and electrical and construction contractors in the Chicago area. He is responsible for the finance department and has 30 years of experience.

Feder offers the following advice for current students and newly minted alumni:

“You cannot be isolated and have success,” he says. “Don’t hold back—break out! Get involved, meet lots of people, join groups, clubs, stretch yourself and take leadership roles. You will earn the respect of those around you.”

This story appeared in the Fall/Winter 2011 issue of FOCUS Magazine.

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