Pierre Donald

From the time he was young, Pierre “Wess” Donald’s family was committed to ensuring that the best educational opportunities were available to him.

Wess is from the Bahamas and attended school there until third grade, when his mother heard about St. Joseph Institute for the Deaf in St. Louis, Mo., and sent Wess there to study through the eighth grade. His parents then sent him to the Denver Academy in Colorado, where he studied for one year before returning to the Bahamas. A short time later, his mother passed away, and Wess stayed in the Bahamas to be with his family and complete high school.

When Wess learned about RIT/NTID, his father encouraged him to apply because of the opportunities available for him here.

“My father wanted me to come here to get a good education and to be independent,” he says. “I feel very comfortable here. I can understand the teachers, and they help me stay on track. And there are counselors available and tutoring if I need extra help.”

Wess’s interest in computers led the 20-year-old to major in Applied Computer Technology. After he completes his associate degree, he is considering continuing his education to pursue a bachelor’s degree in a computer-related field. And although he’s only a first-year student, he already has plans for his career.

“I want to create software and write my own programs,” he explains.

Wess, who has a reputation with his friends for being funny, likes to spend time chatting with them and joking around. He enjoys the social opportunities available to him through NTID’s Deaf International Student Association, and also likes to play basketball, baseball and football. And because college life sometimes can be hectic, Wess likes to relieve stress by lifting weights at RIT’s new Gordon Field House several times a week.

Although he misses his family, especially his 2-year-old nephew, Wess says he’s had no trouble adjusting to college life and is looking forward to getting a U.S. driver’s license and completing a cooperative work assignment this summer.

This story appeared in the Spring/Summer 2005 issue of FOCUS Magazine.

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