Second-year Pierce College student Lydia Craven has been studying American Sign Language for nearly eight years and has been interpreting for two.
When she isn’t attending classes or interpreting, Craven enjoys spending time with her friends, walking outdoors, playing sports and reading murder mysteries. Her favorite author is Agatha Christie.
Craven is back at Pierce College this year after having spent two years commuting from Puyallup to Seattle Central Community College.
“I found a lot of independence during my years attending Seattle Central. Now I can take public transportation and I am pretty good at recognizing streets and roads. I was very happy to go there, but it is really nice to come home to Puyallup.”
She prefers attending Pierce College because it’s a smaller campus and she enjoys getting to know her classmates and the faculty.
When she was in junior high school, Craven decided to enroll in her first sign language class.
“All of my other friends were taking Spanish,” Craven said. “I didn’t want to be mainstream, so I took sign language.”
After four years of ASL, Craven realized that she wanted to become a full-time interpreter and she is currently working toward earning her sign language interpreting degree.
“I got into it for one reason but ended up falling in love with the language, the culture, and the people,” Craven said. “I thought ‘This makes me happy and I want to do it.’”
She plans to work as a professional interpreter for 20 to 30 years before settling into a teaching position at a local high school or community college.
Craven is a natural when it comes to working with the deaf-blind.
She says everyone is different and that holds true within the deaf community; that it’s simply a matter of finding out what type of individual she is working with and how she can best assist them.
“In American mainstream culture we tend to be an individualistic society mainly focused on ourselves; the deaf community is collectivist, they have a group mentality,” she said. “If someone in the group is low, everyone rallies around to cheer them up. If someone does something well, everyone celebrates the achievement.”
Craven has been a volunteer interpreter for various organizations. She frequently works with local colleges, church groups and theater troupes; She has also spent time working as a Support Service Provider— the eyes and ears for a deaf-blind individual.
At this year’s Deaf Carnival on campus, Craven volunteered to help set up and interpret for one of the many student-run booths.
She would like to see more students with a genuine interest for deaf culture become involved in the community.
“Attitude plays a large factor. Trying to be involved without stepping on anyone’s toes,” Craven said. “You want to be respectful of everyone involved.”
One of her favorite work experiences was getting to work at a weeklong deaf-blind summer camp within the community.
“I went last year for the whole week and had an absolute blast,” Craven said. “I have been accepted to go back this year and I am really excited.”
According to Craven, working with people is a large part of what makes interpreting so interesting.
She also enjoys the unique topics and settings in which she often can interpret—camping, carnivals and theaters.
Craven has fun interpreting; she has found something that she truly loves to do.
“There isn’t a day that goes by that I go without signing,” Craven said. “Some people think out loud. I sign out loud.”
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