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Feature C April 25, 2011

Inside the Silent World of USF

By: Natalie Green and Angela Hill

Feature C

In a school of multiple diversities the silent crowd seems to be overlooked. This is the inside scoop of a USF deaf students daily life.

            TAMPA, Fla.- Mandy Cornelius was one of the many deaf students here at University of South Florida. Cornelius has now graduated, but had many struggles during her time here at USF due to her disability.  “I knew I wanted to go to college, but I never knew I would have to face the troubles and hardships that I did,” Cornelius said. As a freshman, Cornelius moved away from home and moved to Tampa. Cornelius added, “It’s harder to make friends as a deaf person than it is for the non-hearing impaired.”

            Many students head straight to the back of the classroom on the first day, but for Cornelius it was different. She needed to be right in front of her professors so that she was able to read their lips and understand them.

            Not all deaf students are able to read lips like Cornelius. USF provides interpreters through the Student Disability Services for deaf students. Terra Benton is an interpreter here at USF. Benton explained that it is not easy for deaf students to acclimate to a large college, since they are used to their small groups of other deaf students in their high school. Cornelius says, “USF provides deaf students all the services that they can so that it is easier for deaf students to understand in the classroom. Being a deaf student is just like being a regular student, they just need an interpreter sometimes.”

            Most deaf students tend to stick together and have certain activities they do together, simply because they can relate with one another. Some of the social activities for deaf students include silent dinners and deaf bowling. Silent dinners take place each Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at the Westshore Mall food court. Cindy Branson, a deaf student at Hillsborough Community College attended a silent dinner at the Westshore Mall. “It’s a great thing that us deaf people can collaborate with each other and feel comfortable,” Brason said.

            For the more rambunctious crowd, there is the Deaf Professional Happy Hour. People in the deaf society get together once a month and drink at local bars around Tampa. While DPPH might sound a little strange, it actually provides a better understanding of the deaf culture and encourages diversity. It is also the perfect atmosphere for networking and making new friends.

            Deaf students may have a difficult time when they first enter a university, but overall there is a high success rate. While they are a diverse group of students here at the University of South Florida, they are fully capable of managing the same everyday lifestyle as any hearing student.


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