What’s Your Story? Volume #2

Mar 7, 2022 | Interpreter Education

by: Kay-Kay Stephenson - NIC – NIR Coordinator

Often times when I am on an interpreting assignment, the question is posed.... "Why or how did you become an interpreter?

After speaking with many of my colleagues, I discovered that this is a common occurrence. I thought it would be interesting and fun to find out why or how interpreters came into this field. I think you will find every story a unique one.

I interviewed many interpreters. Here is a brief glimpse into their lives and how they landed into the field of sign language interpreting.

Here is Kristi's story


I was the first person in my family to complete a college degree, earning a Bachelor's degree in business management. I worked in sales for many years. It was not a fulfilling job, but it was somewhat fun and it paid the bills. I watched my little sister go back to college in her late 30’s for Sign Language Interpreting. I was always enthralled in the interpreting process. My sister would tell me stories about what she was learning, the Deaf community and how she was slowly able to communicate in this most expressive language. I was envious. I was intrigued. I was curious. I wanted to know more.

It was at age 45 that I decided to go back to college and follow in my sister's footsteps to become an interpreter. I had my work cut out for me, and worked harder than I have ever worked in my life. I don’t think people realize the intensity of learning sign language, especially later in life, but I was determined. I inserted myself in every volunteer arena in the Deaf community, I went to Deaf events and I attended every workshop I could find. I studied, practiced and was tutored by my sister via FaceTime, since we live in different states. I truly fell in love with the language and felt I had found my purpose.

I went to college for three additional years and graduated from an interpreting program in 2010 in Fort Worth, Texas. I became BEI Level 1 certified in 2012. I currently work in the educational setting and believe that is where I make the most impact. I love "my" students and I can't imagine doing anything else.

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