CLASS of 2018
Brandon Antwine was born in Redlands, California and currently lives in Colton, California. Growing up, he was taught American Sign Language alongside English to help build his communication skills. He rediscovered ASL at Colton High School after his older sister had previously enrolled in a sign language class. He then registered for several sign language classes throughout the rest of high school. After high school, Brandon enrolled at Riverside City College and received his Associates Degree in Communication, Media, and Languages.
After he finishes the interpreting program, Brandon plans to transfer to a 4 year institution to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics. Brandon wants to use his bilingual skills to interpret for settings such as conventions, political functions, public festivals, and LGBTQ events.
Rebecca Benson was born and raised in Southern California. She first learned the manual alphabet to communicate with a deaf friend, whom she had met at church. She then received her first Sign Language dictionary from an interpreter. That sparked the desire to study American Sign Language. Rebecca took her first two ASL classes at Chaffey. After a few years' break, she returned to finish her signing classes at Riverside City College. Rebecca is studying to complete her BA in Social Work. After graduation, Rebecca hopes to fuse Interpreting with her Social Work schooling and Educational setting experiences.
Margarita Campos was born in LA County, but grew up in the Inland Empire. She was first introduced to ASL as an elective in high school. As a recent high school graduate and a freshman in college, Margarita was indecisive with the career path she wanted to take. In her second semester at RCC she gave ASL another try. As time went on the more ASL classes she took, the more her ambition grew for the language and the Deaf community. Margarita has had the pleasure of making the Dean’s List twice for her academic achievement throughout college, as well as being honored with an internship at a local church in Riverside. Her passion for ASL is priceless. She strives to become a freelance interpreter within the Deaf community with the desire of becoming the best interpreter she can be.
Cherise Cottom is currently the last semester of RCC's ASL ITP. She graduated high school with honors and continues to maintain that standard at RCC. She has an AA an degree in Communication & Arts. Cherise works as an ASL tutor on campus, (ASL courses 1-4) and has also worked as a Supplemental Instructor for Diana MacDougall in her ASL 5 class. Cherise was born hearing into a hearing family, but was taught the alphabet and some signs as a child from her mother. It also helped to better communicate with my HoH grandmother before she passed. That love, passion, and connection inspired Cherise as an adult to follow her dream of working in the Deaf community as an interpreter. She believes access and support is crucial, as are qualified, and certified interpreters. She feels blessed to have worked with great mentors so far and to continue to be involved in this community.
Graciela Fuentes first got introduced to ASL through some friends in her middle school. She officially started taking ASL classes at SB Valley College and transferred to the Interpreting Program at Riverside City College. She loves ASL, and wants to become a trilingual interpreter. Being in this program has allowed Graciela to gain interpreting experience in an educational, religious and community settings, and she has enjoyed every single moment. She hopes to gain as much experience as she can to help her grow as an interpreter. Graciela’s end goal is to interpret in the courts.
At the age of 4 years old, Tabytha witnessed sign language for the first time. Seeing a way of communicating that didn’t require voice or sound was a novel concept to her, and she immediately wanted to learn more. Her mother bought her books upon books so that she could practice and Tabytha eventually moved to having pen pals on Skype that she would sign with. From age 4 to age 19 this is all the training she had: her books, the internet, and the connections she made online. At SBVC she became involved in the ASL Club, where she fine-tuned her skills conversing with those in the local Deaf community. After finishing her AA in Liberal Arts at SBVC, she transferred to RCC with the purpose of obtaining an AS Degree in ASL Interpreting. She hopes to work in mental health interpreting in the future, combining her passions for ASL and psychology.
Anita Lopez was born in Mexico and raised in Riverside, California. Growing up, she was raised in a Spanish-speaking household. Along with knowing English and American Sign Language (ASL), Anita is fluent in Spanish, being able to speak, write and read the language. Her involvement and interest in ASL began as a child when she saw her sister practicing the ASL alphabet. From there, Anita sought to learn the language. After taking her first ASL class at RCC, she found herself falling in love with the culture and history of the language. She is currently in her last semester of the Interpreting Program at RCC. After graduating from RCC, she plans on pursuing interpreting opportunities in the educational field, as well as in the community. Later down the road, she plans on applying to California State University, Long Beach to work towards a BA degree in Linguistics and eventually becoming RID certified.
Brooke began her interest in American Sign Language when she was 10 year's old. She was involved with LifeHouse in Redlands. This is where she first saw ASL interpretation being used, and immediately was fascinated by it. During high school, she met a Deaf woman through LifeHouse Theater. That woman eventually became Brooke's first ASL teacher. When Brooke started going to college in 2013, she didn't really know what she wanted to do as a career, so she started out taking General Education courses. One of those courses was ASL 1. She fell in love with the language and culture, and decided she wanted to continue learning ASL. She soon realized she had a passion and desire to become an Interpreter. In 2015 she transferred to Riverside City College to continue her ASL interpreting studies, and then moved to Riverside to be closer to the Deaf community (CSDR, CODIE, etc.). After graduating in 2018, she hopes to find work interpreting for college students. She also would love to get involved with Church interpreting, or perhaps even one day interpret at LifeHouse Theater, where it all began.
Alyssa Olvera was born and raised in Riverside, CA. Her interest in Sign Language began at an early age, but her love for the language really took off after her first formal ASL class at Riverside City College. After graduating from RCC with her AA degree, she transferred to CSUSB, where she earned her BA degree in Psychology in 2014. From there she went right back to the place where it all started--RCC--to enter the SAID Interpreting Program to follow her dreams of becoming an ASL/English Interpreter. Alyssa will receive her Interpreting Certificate of Completion in the Spring of 2018.
Trina Perez was born and raised in Southern California. Trina was first exposed to sign language when she was about 9 or 10 years old. Her sister had taken an ASL class for her high school foreign language requirement, and she would share with Trina what she was learning. Trina immediately fell in love with the language, the culture, and the Deaf community. Eventually, she took ASL as her foreign language in high school. After high school, Trina heard about the RCC SAID Interpreting Program. Trina's high school sign language teacher, as well as her teacher's Deaf husband, encouraged her to go for it. After graduating from the RCC SAID Interpreting Program, her dream job would be to interpret at Disneyland. Trina would also love to work with Deaf children in any capacity. Trina is looking forward to the adventures that this career will bring.
Genna was a junior at Redlands High School when she decided to take ASL as a language class. She fell in love with the language and how expressive it was. Her ASL teacher encouraged her to continue sign language in college. She then enrolled at Riverside City College to major in musical theatre/acting and decided to continue with sign language classes, as well. After her first year at RCC, she realized Sign Language Interpreting would be a wonderful career and entered the RCC Interpreting Program. She is looking forward to graduating with her Certificate of Completion in ASL Interpretation in June of 2018, and wants to continue acting, as well as interpreting.
Jill Pitt was born in Northern CA. She is currently in her last semester of the RCC Interpreting Program, graduating in June 2018. She is an active volunteer for both CSDR and the Center of Deafness, also known as “CODIE”. She will be the first in her family to graduate from college.
She has an older deaf brother, which gave her he opportunity to effectively communicate with the D/HH community her entire life, as well as understand and respect the culture.
Claudia Rivera was born in Oaxaca, Mexico, and raised in the USA. She comes from a family of two hard-working parents and one brother. She is married and has two beautiful daughters. Claudia started college wanting to become an elementary teacher, but then fell in love with American Sign Language. She was initially introduced to ASL through a Deaf friend. He had the patience to teach Claudia her first signs. This is where her passion started to becoming an ASL interpreter. Ultimately, Claudia wants to become a trilingual interpreter between English, American Sign Language, and Spanish. After completing the Interpreting Program, Claudia wants to work in the educational setting, as well as in the community, and to ultimately become RID certified.
Liyani Santamaria Sanchez
Liyiani was raised in the Riverside area. Her first encounter with ASL was with RCC interpreters during her first year as a student here. She took her first ASL class and enjoyed learning about the language and culture. From there, her mother encouraged her to pursue a career as an ASL Interpreter. Liyiani decided to pursue interpreting while also taking classes in her Microbiology major. While going through the sciences and general education courses towards her major, she continued taking the ASL classes that were needed to go through RCC’s Interpreting Program. Liyiani plans to get her B.S in Microbiology at UCR and has future plans to attend medical school at UCR and earn her M.D. Once she finishes the RCC Interpreting Program, she plans to use her trilingual skills in various community and educational settings, as well as obtaining the skills to interpret in medical settings.
Allison grew up in Corona and moved to San Bernardino at the age of nine. She is the third oldest of nine siblings. She fell in love with ASL from watching her favorite TV show,” Sue Thomas: F. B. Eye”. During high school she started learning vocabulary from any ASL book she could get her hands on. After graduating high school she started ASL 1 at RCC, already determined to become an ASL/English interpreter. While attending Deaf events, her love for ASL grew into a passion for the Deaf community and Deaf Culture. While in the program, she realized she wanted to focus on religious, educational, and performance Interpreting.
She currently works as a Supplemental Instructor for Diana MacDougall and enjoys working with students who share her love for ASL and Deaf Culture. On weekends she enjoys hiking and spending time with family. She is eager to graduate from RCC’s Interpreting Program and continue working with the Deaf community. She also plans to pursue her BA in ASL Linguistics and Deaf Culture with an option in ASL/English interpreting at CSULB.
Desiree received her BA degree in Communicated Disorders from the University of Redlands in 2013. She is currently pursuing a MA degree and Teaching Credential in Moderate-to-Severe Special Education at CSUSB. Desiree's passion for language and communication led her to becoming a Bilingual Speech and Language Pathologist Assistant (SLPA). She has been working as a SLPA for the last 5 years and has found that her knowledge of ASL has enabled her to help some of her students develop language and a way to communicate when spoken words were not enough. Desiree's interest in ASL first sparked when she was a Teacher’s Assistant in Junior High School and a student used sign language to communicate.
Recently, Desiree has accepted a position as a Moderate-to-Severe Special Education Teacher and looks forward to incorporating sign language, along with English and Spanish, in my classroom. Although she is unsure what the future holds, she is excited to continue learning about ASL, Interpreting, and the Deaf community along the way.
As a youth, Erin learned signs from a Sign Language book. She decided to take ASL 1 in her first year in College, later her mom asked if she wanted to be an interpreter. Erin was still on the edge, but it did not take long for her to get hooked on Deaf Culture, Sign Language, and American Deaf History. The experience opened up her eyes and knowledge of Deaf people. It also allowed her to have a new perspective on life and language. On top of her love for Sign Language, Erin is passionate about theatre, dance, music, and traveling. After receiving an AA in Interpreting at Riverside City College, Erin plans on transferring and getting a BA in Deaf Studies and Minoring in Dance. Along with working as an Interpreter, Erin's other goals are working with Deaf dancers and opening up a Deaf /Hard of Hearing Dance studio. Additionally, she would like to work with Deaf /Hard of Hearing individuals in the film industry and internationally. Erin desires to close the gap between the Deaf and hearing community wherever she is.