Coffee with Naomi M.

During interim, I took American Sign Language (ASL) 110 with Carmen Steen and started learning an intricate language. When spring semester began and I started multimedia storytelling, I decided to further my work with the interpreting program by featuring Augustana Deaf Awareness (ADA) and its annual Burst of Sign event.

This led me to an interview with junior interpreting major Naomi Miller, president of ADA. Her passion for the Deaf community is inspiring and endless.

Raised in Ham Lake, Minn., Naomi was exposed to Deaf culture in her church growing up, where a Deaf woman also attended. When Naomi got older, she watched the TV show “Switched at Birth” and was fascinated by the language.

In high school, Naomi was required to take a foreign language and chose American Sign Language. She took the class through community college for dual credit.

“It wasn’t until I was in ASL four at that school that I was like, ‘you know, I think I want to be an interpreter,’” Naomi said. “Before that, I just wanted to learn the language and that’s it.”

Naomi spent most of her life unaware of Augustana’s existence. Naomi was attending community college when her friend introduced her to the Augustana interpreting program; together, the women transferred to Augustana.

In interim 2018, Naomi stepped into the role of ADA president and took on the responsibility of planning Burst of Sign.

Naomi is dedicated to the Deaf community and Burst of Sign’s mission to focus on the Deaf community.

“Deaf people go to a lot of different events that are catered to people who can hear,” Naomi said. “They always have to have an interpreter who maybe misses some of the information and they can’t fully understand what’s happening the same way that I could. This event, we put it all in Sign Language so that it’s catered to the Deaf person.”

There are professional interpreters present at Burst of Sign to translate for hearing attendees so hearing people can understand what is happening, Naomi said. The audience does not need to know ASL to enjoy the event.

Naomi spends her time planning Burst of Sign, studying her ASL coursework, working in the ASL lab and studying with her classmates.

Despite her dedication, Naomi refuses to take sole credit for the Burst of Sign preparations.

“I couldn’t be the president without my classmates and everyone that is involved,” Naomi said. “Burst of Sign wouldn’t be a thing without the people helping me.”

Join Naomi and Augustana Deaf Awareness in Kresge Recital Hall on April 27 and 28 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. for Burst of Sign 2018. The theme is empowerment. Tickets are free with an Augustana ID or $5 general admission.

Come see the Signs.


Featured image courtesy of Augustana Deaf Awareness.




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Journalism, communication and media studies major at Augustana University (S.D.). Coffee lover and feature writer.

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