Courtney Stevens graduated from the College of Southern Nevada with associates degrees in Deaf studies and Deaf studies Interpreting in May. She first learned sign language in high school. Her goal is to become a nationally certified interpreter.
"I looked at going to Oregon or even Washington D.C," Stevens said.
But now she has the perfect reason to continue her education right here in Nevada. The College of Southern Nevada will welcome its first class to pursue a Bachelor's Degree in Deaf studies designed to address a critical shortage of nationally certified interpreters in Nevada.
"It goes from introduction to interpreting which is the principles and practices of the profession through the actual hands on get your hands in the air signing,"
A Bachelor's Degree is required to qualify to take the test for national certification. Caroline Bass is an instructor at College of Southern Nevada.
"We didn't have that in Nevada," Bass said. "And when our students finished their AA degree programs they were going out of state and then many times they weren't coming back to work."
A huge problem for Nevada which has more than 39,000 people with hearing disabilities and fewer than 100 nationally certified interpreters.
But now students like Stevens, who ultimately hopes to work in the school system, have a way to achieve their goals while meeting an important need.
"It's being able to facilitate that communication to make us equal. The Deaf community deserves to be equal with us. We're not helping them. We are providing the equal access that they deserve."