UNCG’s IDEAS Program: An Interview with Three Students

Jenna McKee Meaney

Staff Writer

The UNCG IDEAS program is a major within the School of Education and consists of three different concentrations. These concentrations focus on Interpreting, Deaf Education and Advocacy Services (IDEAS). 

As the School of Education website says:

The Interpreting, Deaf Education, and Advocacy Services (IDEAS) major provides opportunities for study in three concentrations: Advocacy and Services for the Deaf; K–12 Deaf and Hard of Hearing Teacher Licensure; and Interpreter Preparation. All areas of study focus on the unique educational needs of deaf and hard of hearing children emphasizing language acquisition, teaching methods, and communication modes.

Three students with Interpreter Preparation concentrations have given their thoughts on the program and the people who make it great. 

Anna Brunson is an IDEAS major with an Interpreter Preparation concentration and minor in dance. She is from Charlotte and is set to graduate in Fall 2025. Abby Baker is an IDEAS major with an Interpreter Preparation concentration. She is from Knightdale, N.C., with an expected graduation date of Fall 2024. Kayla Needham is an IDEAS major with an Interpreter Preparation concentration and a minor in creative writing. She is from Carthage, N.C., and is on track to graduate in Fall 2025.

How did you find your way into the IDEAS program? 

Anna Brunson: I originally came to UNCG in 2019 as a nursing major. After COVID hit, it got really hard to maintain the grades and mental health I needed to be successful, so I took time off from school and came back last semester to the IDEAS program. I am so glad I made the switch because I finally feel as though I have found the academic path where I belong. Not only have I made such a wonderful group of friends who offer their support, I feel so at home in this major and couldn’t imagine myself anywhere else.

Abby Baker: I came in as a PID, now IDEAS, major. I’m a transfer student, so I did two years at a community college, where I took three ASL classes. I had been interested in ASL for a long time, but those classes really solidified for me that this is what I wanted to do. When I first applied to UNCG, I applied to the Deaf Ed program, but before I even made it to campus I switched to Interpreting. It’s funny ‘cause I don’t really remember why I switched, but I’m happy with where I am now. I do think about Deaf Ed every now and then, though.

Kayla Needham: I came in as an exploratory major, then in the spring of 2021 I changed to Speech Pathology where I had to take ASL, then that fall I changed to Interpreting in October! So I’ve officially been declared in this major for a year now!

What are your long term goals and how is the IDEAS program helping you achieve your goals? 

Anna Brunson: My long-term goal in this program when specifically talking about my academic journey is to do the best I can grade-wise so it can reflect my motivation to be an advocate in the deaf community. When it comes to being an interpreter, knowing the language is half the job. You have to be aware of the oppression within the community and learn how to advocate and include people within the deaf community. Long-term, my goals are to reflect the members of the deaf community and be a voice for them.

Abby Baker: My goal is to be an interpreter, obviously. There are a lot of different types of interpreting: medical, educational, legal, concerts and many others. I’m not really sure which I’d like to focus on. The cool thing about interpreting is that I’ll probably experience all of those at some point in my career. The IDEAS major is helping me achieve my goal not just by training me how to interpret but by teaching me about the deaf community and by ensuring I have a firm understanding of deaf culture and ASL. In this major, we have an internship in our last semester. During the internship, we get to experience many different interpreting settings. I’m excited to explore these different settings and figure out what I like and don’t like.

Kayla Needham: I feel like my long term goals don’t match most people’s ideas of goals, but my real life long term goal is to be a good person. I know, so very stereotypical! The accessibility that this major provides will allow me to meet new people and allow me to grow as a person!

Who have been your mentors in this program? 

Anna Bruson: My mentors so far in this program have been my professor Frank Griffin and the interpreters he has in our classes. They all offer such a safe and joyous environment to learn, and it has allowed me to really open up so far this semester.

Abby Baker: So, I have a lot of mentors. I met with an interpreter who works here in Greensboro last semester to talk about her experience in the field and in the program, but I haven’t really talked to her since. My real mentors are my professors and the deaf community. The professors in this program really care about their students. They want us to do well. They want us to succeed. They are always there to answer questions and address concerns we have. Then there’s the community. The deaf community is really welcoming and encouraging of IDEAS students. I owe a lot of my growth to the community; that’s where my signing has been able to develop and mature.

Kayla Needham: Frank Griffin and Sam Parker! Frank is very encouraging and Sam has experience as an interpreter, so I trust his judgment.

What would you like to tell people about the IDEAS program? 

Anna Brunson: My advice for new students in the IDEAS program would be this: sometimes it feels really scary. We all have moments of, “Oh my gosh, can I really do this?” but don’t let it discourage you. If you have the right motives, this program is a perfect fit for anyone willing to put in the effort. My journey so far has been a rollercoaster of emotions and confidence, but always remember that you have a large and kind group of professors and program directors that can always point the way if you get discouraged. Keep an open mind and always remember that you can do this, and you’ll be dang good at it if you put the time in. Most of all, good luck! You got this.

Abby Baker: As far as advice goes, find your balance early on and stick to it. Coming to college is a lot all at once, so it is important to find your balance between school, social life and your other responsibilities. Everyone’s balance looks different too, and that’s okay. But I have found that creating my own balance and sticking to it has been extremely helpful for me.

Kayla Needham: New students should know that, yes, this major comes with its scheduling difficulties, but that’s not a reason to not give it your all! Also, find your group! Having people in your corner who want to see you succeed is crucial, and knowing that you’re supported by your peers is very helpful!

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1 reply

  1. Awesome tips! The IDEAS program sounds great!!


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