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Interview with an American Sign Language Major: Teague Albenesius

February 5, 2016

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Meet Teague Albenesius. Teague is a Senior American Sign Language Major from Aiken, SC and the President of the Clemson American Sign Language Club. I met Teague last semester when I joined Clemson’s ASL Club and got to know her while working alongside her during Deaf Awareness Week back in November. She has been a fabulous resource for me as an incoming student. Teague was gracious enough to give me some of her time and answer some questions about American Sign Language at Clemson.

 

So, Teague, did you come to Clemson to be an American Sign Language (ASL) Major?

I did not come to Clemson to be an ASL major! I actually came to Clemson as a Math major so that I could teach math. But I needed a language for my general education requirements. I picked ASL because it had always intrigued me. 

What intrigued you about ASL?

I’ve always been curious about ASL. Growing up, I didn’t understand how something inaudible could be a language, but I had seen ASL used and my questions were never answered. 

When, and why, did you decide to switch from Math to ASL?

I switched 2nd semester of my sophomore year. I realized I had more of a passion for ASL and Clemson didn’t have the kind of math program I wanted anyways. I’m still hoping to teach math, just to Deaf kids instead. 

What has surprised you the most about learning ASL or the ASL major here at Clemson?

What surprised me most about the ASL Major is that there is actually a major at Clemson. Most people have no idea that that’s a major here at Clemson, and I surely did not know that as a freshman either. 

What surprised me most my first semester of ASL is learning that ASL was hardly tied to English at all. Many people believe that ASL is just an English sign system, but that’s incredibly untrue. Later on, in my linguistics class, I learned so much about how culture affects language and language affects culture. I really loved learning how ASL could be affected by the culture of people and why certain signs are the way that they are. 

I know the ASL professors here at Clemson are a diverse group, being a mixture of Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and CODA (Child of Deaf Adult) and I hope to talk more about them in depth in the future but tell me a little bit about your experiences with them.

AB: AB, Alton Brant, was my first ASL professor at Clemson. I had him bright and early on Tuesday/Thursday’s and I was always so amazed by how chipper and passionate he was at 8 am. He carried that passion through all of the classes I had with him.

Kim: Kim is one of the classiest teachers I have ever met. She is one of the most refined and well-educated people I have ever met. My ability to understand ASL improved greatly in her class and I had the privilege of being in two of her first classes that she taught at Clemson. 

Tressy: Tressy was the old Kim. I only had one class with her, but she was very kind. 

Paul: Paul is one of the kindest professors I have ever had. He is the most understanding professor and will go out of his way to help each and every student. 

Steve: Steve is the interpreting professor at Clemson. Although he is one of the hardest professors at Clemson, I have grown as a person in his classes. His classes are emotional, physically, and mentally draining, but I cannot expound upon how much my skills have grown since first entering his classes my sophomore year. 

The passion of these teachers is absolutely amazing. I believe that is something that no other department at Clemson has. These teachers want their students to succeed, but they also want to promote Deaf culture and their rights. 

Clemson University is also working to hire a new professor to replace Alton Brant after he retires. 

Yes, AB is much loved and it’s sad to see him go! I’m grateful that I will have the opportunity to have him as a professor for at least one class before his retirement. It’ll be interesting to have a new professor come in, as well.

So, the Clemson ASL Club. Tell me a bit about that. What kind of influence has being involved in the club had on you?

I have been involved with the ASL Club since my freshman year. I became events coordinator my sophomore year and treasurer my junior year. However, I became super involved my senior year because I had much more influence as president of the club. ASL club has had a lot of influence on me! I met my Deaf ‘mom’, Ann, at the socials and she has been a wonderful role model to me. I’ve learned so much about the Deaf community and made a bunch of really fantastic friends that are pursuing the same kinds of careers that I am looking into. 

You mention the socials as part of ASL club and have told me many times that being involved in the community, going to the socials, is very important in developing skill in Sign Language. Let me mention here for our readers that the socials are open to everyone and a schedule can be found on the Clemson ASL Club Facebook page. Any interest or skill level is welcome! Other than the social’s Teague, what would your advice be for someone newly interested in learning ASL?

Anyone interested in ASL should take an ASL 101 class. That first semester of ASL is the most mind-opening experience. You learn about Deaf culture and the language and a whole different part of the world is opened up for you that you never knew before. 

You recently had an opportunity to intern for a week at the Texas School for the Deaf. What did you take away from that experience?

It was really cool to see what a strong deaf school can do and the difference between South Carolina schools and it. S.C. has a lot of ground to cover.

What is one thing do you wish people knew about the Deaf Community?

I wish people knew that not only do the Deaf not believe that they are disabled, but they truly are NOT disabled. Deaf people can do anything that hearing people can do and they have a rich and amazing culture. 

About American Sign Language?

People can use ASL underwater and talk through glass walls or in super noisy places. This language is truly amazing. 

Thank you. It truly is an amazing language and an amazing culture. So, you’re graduating in May, congratulations! What’s next for you?

Currently, I am applying for Gallaudet’s Master’s Program for Deaf Education and Elementary Education. If I get into the program, I will start there this fall. If I do not, I will become an educational interpreter, preferably in an elementary school. 

That’s great! I wish you the best of luck on your application to Gallaudet and thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer my questions!

 

In addition to completing her Senior year in the Educational Interpreting program and fulfilling the duties of Clemson’s ASL Club President, Teague also works as an ASL tutor here on campus and plays piccolo with the Tiger Band. A huge thank you to Teague for taking the time to answer my questions and giving us some insight and a graduating Senior’s perspective into Clemson’s American Sign Language/Educational Interpreting program.

I wish you all the Best Teague!



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