Kailee is graduating with degrees in both American Sign Language (ASL) Studies and ASL/English Interpretation Major, and she has also earned a minor in health. She is from Livermore, California, where she attended Las Positas Community College and completed her Associate in Arts degree before transferring to WOU. As an outstanding student and member of our campus community, we interviewed Goodrich on her favorite experiences and aspects of WOU, as well as her future plans.
Why did you choose WOU?
I chose WOU because Western had the program I wanted to major in. I applied to another school that claimed to have an ASL/English interpreting program. My mom and I visited the school, only to find out the program only offered online. At first, I was devastated, but I think it was all meant to happen, because I was meant to go to Western Oregon. It was one of the best decisions I have made in my life!
What has been your most memorable class?
This is a hard choice, because all my classes have been memorable. The small class sizes made each class special! One of the most memorable classes I took was ASL Phonology. I was not interested in linguistics; I had a very difficult time in English linguistics, but this class changed my perspective about it all. As a class, we would have group discussions about different productions of signs, the external influences on language, and how we use/produce language. My favorite part about the class was analyzing our own signing production. We were able to analyze why we use certain signs and how American Sign Language is taught to L1 (Language 1) learners. Lyra provided creative ways to help the students memorize material and provided a safe learning environment. 10/10 would recommend it!
What is the biggest lesson you have learned throughout your time at WOU?
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned throughout my time at WOU is [that] growth is never comfortable. Any kind of growth–self, professional, personal (the list could go on)–isn’t supposed to be comfortable. It is often difficult and emotional, but it is worth it! Reflecting on my time at WOU, the moments that I cried, struggled, and persevered are the times that made me the person I am today. Through my time at WOU, I have learned to identify when I am experiencing a period of growth. Being able to identify those moments has made it easier to persevere through challenging moments, because I know I will be a better person after the tough period concludes. We have to focus on the things we can control in any situation; the one thing we can control is how we respond to the situation.
Who stands out from your time here?
This is a tough question, because every staff member that I have met/worked with is amazing! I feel people tend to say this but each faculty member in the ASL Studies department, Interpreting department, and Health Department has been amazing!
There are three [faculty] members that have impacted my life the most: [those are] CM Hall, Heather Holmes, and Kara Gournaris. Kara Gounaris was one of my first teachers at WOU. CM Hall was my professor for DeafBlind Culture, Communication, and Guiding class, and Heather Holmes attended Seabeck in 2018 with our group. Without these three women in my life, I wouldn’t be who I am today. Kara, CM, and Heather noticed something inside me that I never could. They believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself, and they loved me when I felt unworthy of love. I am crying as I write this, because I can’t put into words how much they truly mean to me. I was nominated for this opportunity because of one of them! It is unbelievable to say that I know each of these humans, but I get to call them my friends.
What has been your biggest achievement, success or accomplishment in college?
One of my biggest achievements in college is getting involved in the deaf and deaf-blind community in Oregon. I started working for the DeafBlind Interpreting Institute as a student worker, gaining work experience and building connections in the community. I was offered a job at Tactile Communications working for Jelica Nuccio as a Support Service Provider (SSP) and an SSP coordinator. These opportunities aided in my professional and personal development. All of these accomplishments led to my decision to pursue my master’s degree.
What will you miss the most about WOU?
I will miss the inclusive environment at WOU! The staff and faculty help create that learning environment. It is a safe place to be yourself without worrying about others judging. Everyone respects each other’s journey. We are trying our best to navigate this world, and WOU creates a safe, accepting environment for the students to do so.
What are your plans for after graduation?
My plan after graduation is to attend a master’s program at Portland State University. My master’s degree will be in Special Education with a focus in Orientation and Mobility. My goal is to work with deaf-blind individuals collaboratively to make the world a more accessible place while supporting the development of autonomy for individuals. My goal is to be an ASL/English interpreter and work as an orientation and mobility trainer using American Sign Language and Protactile American Sign Language (PTASL).