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ASL Club: building community and fostering growth

Alyssa Caitlyn founder of the ASL Club here at Millersville University. Photo courtesy of Jay Lindblad

Lou Crossan
Associate Arts and Culture Editor

Millersville’s ASL club just celebrated their one year anniversary on March 29th. Since founding the club, Alyssa Caitlyn has seen community and connections grow all around her. It all started last February when an RA in South hosted an event sharing some ASL. Alyssa attended and learned basic signs like ‘help’ and ‘my name is’. She began asking around campus if an ASL club already existed, and when she discovered that none did, she decided to create it herself.

When she started the club, Alyssa knew very little sign. Even now, nearly all of her learning has come from YouTube and other online resources. Though this can sometimes be a challenge, she welcomes the opportunity to grow with the rest of the club members. “The whole point is to have a community of learning”, she says.

Since ASL became a serious part of Alyssa’s life, she’s felt some things change drastically. “The connections I’ve made on campus are immense. The ways I’ve related others over his topic have really impacted me personally”. Alyssa always wanted to be a teacher, but since picking up ASL has seen big changes in her career plans. An inspiring visit from Dr. Bruce Mortenson of Towson University to the club last semester made Alyssa realize she wants to go to grad school for psych, with a focus in ASL. “I might be interested in researching in grad school how ASL can impact hearing students and help them learn”. She hopes to bring ASL into more schools.

When one begins to explore ASL and deaf culture, it’s like another part of the world opens up around them. Alyssa has noticed ASL in pop-culture places like ‘NCIS’ and ‘A Quiet Place’. ASL club even partnered last semester with Ville After Dark to show ‘A Quiet Place’. Alyssa plans to explore pop-culture more by teaching songs in ASL over the next few club meetings.

She has found so much gratification in having the privilege to share ASL with those around her. Alyssa also is a student tour guide and will be providing a personal tour, and interpreting for, a prospective student this weekend. She is a valuable asset to the admissions office, and while appreciates the praise, says overall that it’s just humbling to have the capability to help others in this way. “When someone’s eyes light up when they realize I can sign with them, it fills my heart with so much joy and makes me so happy. It’s this contagious excitement”. Alyssa hopes to continue to share her love for ASL with those around campus.

ASL club meets Thursdays at 7:30 pm in Stayer 104. Their email is MUASLClub@gmail.com