Hometown: Toledo, Washington
Major: Sign Language Studies
Anticipated Graduation: May 2018
Because of CWI: “I am successful in achieving my dreams.”
Erin began her academic journey at College of Western Idaho (CWI) during the Spring 2016 semester. At the age of 37, this was the first formal education Erin had received since dropping out of school in 7th grade after her parents’ divorce.
Erin says she almost gave up her dream of going to college before her journey started following frustrating results on her math placement test. “I walked out of the building and cried all the way to my car,” she recalled. “I did not feel smart enough.” Thanks to encouragement from Carol Crothers in the College’s Math Solutions Center, Erin kept at it and completed her first semester with a 4.0 and an invitation to join honor society.
Continuous support, from instructors like Carol, kept her momentum going and taught Erin what she was capable of. In English 101, her instructor, Ryan Witt, challenged her as a writer and taught her to be a critical thinker. She learned how to speak in front of people in Communication 101 and how to better understand human nature in Michael Kamplain’s Psychology class. Instructors, Sherry Matthews and Mikkel Nelson, helped lay the foundation for Erin’s interest in sign language, and joining the ASL (American Sign Language) Club provided her with opportunities to connect with the local deaf community.
“I quickly realized I was not alone in achieving my goals and in my struggles to persevere,” she said. “My academic success didn’t come from just myself or the efforts of CWI faculty, but from the friendships I have cultivated with my fellow classmates.”
Over the next year, Erin plans to continue refining her signing skills and putting her canine companion, Molly, through training to become a therapy dog. She has applied to Idaho State University’s Sign Language Interpreting program and says, ultimately, she would like to be an interpreter for deaf children with Molly alongside.