Mary McLerran came up with the name for her idea from Thomas Jefferson’s reference to UVA as an ‘Academic Village’.
For most students, classroom learning doesn’t truly take effect until later, when real life situations bring the need for what was learned. For one student, the “norm” wasn’t enough.
Mary McLerran, a senior majoring in Deaf Studies Education, noticed the need for more interaction and involvement between students in the American Sign Language program. McLerren first became involved with the deaf community as an educational interpreter, which later lead her to aspirations of becoming an ASL high school teacher.
“I want the opportunity to be the teacher in the classroom,” McLerran said. “I’m very passionate about education and the language of ASL. I would love the opportunity to teach it and see others learn and see how they see the world.”
After pondering, the solution came to McLerran to find a way to have student housing specifically designed for students in the ASL program.
“I had the idea in my head and just started going in to professors’ classrooms, getting bumped from one room to another, until I finally found what I was searching for,” McLerran said. “Sometimes the path was a dead end but others led to numerous doorways.”
After talking with several professors, McLerran’s idea developed into a plan. While thinking of a name for the ASL student housing, McLerran traced an idea back from her roots. Growing up in Charlottesville, Virginia, home to Thomas Jefferson’s University of Virginia, gave her the idea for the name.
“Mr. Jefferson fondly referred to UVA as the ‘Academic Village,’ bringing a variety of disciplines and ideas together,” McLerran said. “That name was the inspiration for ASL Academic Village.”
The idea was later finalized, presented and approved by the ASL club, the housing office at Wolverine Crossing Apartments and Phi Kappa Phi. Housing for the ASL Academic Village is expected to be up and running by fall semester 2012.
“Our idea is to try and gather 30 people and have a big signing party,” McLerran said. “Then we will each be able to get a 10 percent rent deduction.”
The ASL Academic Village will be an ASL-based living and learning community, located at Wolverine Crossing Apartments. It will be similar to that of a foreign language house.
“I see this as a serious opportunity for students who really want the daily interaction,” McLerran said. “The Academic Village will help us to develop informal contacts with one another, which will benefit everyone in the deaf studies program and ultimately enhance the program.
This will give us the opportunity to take what we learn in the classroom into a real world environment.”
UVU’s Deaf Studies program is one of the top three in the nation and has hosted The Deaf Studies Conference every two years.
“People come from all over the world to attend this amazing conference, which includes a deaf film festival, deaf Art Exhibit, and famous deaf presenters,” McLerran said. “We will be holding a workshop during this conference April 12 through the 14 and invite people to come contribute ideas for the development of ASL Academic Village.”
By Briauna Leigh Mason