By Crystal Deniz
Fresno State Interpreting student Jennifer Quaintance said she fell in love with American Sign Language when she was introduced to it and the culture in fifth grade because one of her classmates required an
“I became better friends with the interpreter than the girl in my classes,” Quaintance, now in her senior year, said. “I decided that I wanted to be an interpreter and that has been the only passion I have
kept my entire life.” When people are not generally exposed to ASL and interpreters, they may not be truly aware of the importance of the role.
“Sign language interpreters often act as a bridge between the Deaf and hearing worlds for individuals who do not know ASL,” Dr. Bryan Berrett said. Berrett is a professor in the Deaf Studies and Communicative
Disorders department, as well as the interpreting program coordinator.
Berrett currently oversees 75 interpreting students, all of whom must take the National Interpreter Certification exam. The exam can cost between $285 to $475, depending on whether the student is a member of the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf and whether he or she is taking the Knowledge Exam or the Interview and Performance Exam.
“It is costly and we want to help alleviate that stress for them,” Berrett said, referring to himself and his wife Natalie, also a professor in the department.
They decided to help the students by creating 2BU and linked it to the Two Cities Marathon, held this year on Sunday, Nov. 4, 2012.
The event consists of a half-marathon, 13.1 miles and a full marathon, 26.2 miles. There are two routes, one in Fresno and the other in Clovis. The 2BU team of eight will run the Fresno route this year.
“We have been fortunate to raise between $3,000 and $6,000 for each of the previous two years,” Berrett said. The money raised supports student success. This includes provision of training to interpreting mentors that the students work with and also student stipends for those who pass the certification exam. Over $4,000 to date has been awarded to students, he said.
2BU emphasizes the importance of closing the communication gap that separates the deaf and hearing worlds by having the attitude of “to be you,” Berrett said.
Berrett said this year’s goal is to further raise awareness of deaf culture and the need for qualified sign language interpreters, as well to promote a positive attitude toward the career itself. He believes
that 2BU encourages teamwork by running and walking for the same goal.
“Deafness is a relatively low-incidence trait and is relatively invisible,” Anthony Davis, a deaf education student, said. “You can’t look at a person and see their ‘deafness.’” Davis, who has participated as a runner with the 2BU team in the past, praises the idea behind it. He said the public is largely unaware of
deaf culture and the existence of the community and the fundraising efforts benefit a program that is dedicated to the success of that community as a whole.
Davis had already planned to run his first marathon when he learned about 2BU in his ASL 3 class. It gave me an opportunity to run for more than just myself, he said. “I had one friend who based his donation on my overall finish time,” Davis said. “The faster I ran, the more he would donate.”
Quaintance believes she not only speaks for herself, but for many other interpreting students, when she said, “They go quite a few extra miles for us and I oftentimes feel so unworthy of this treatment.”