IM this article to a friend!

November 22, 2004

Deaf student/event at Ripon College

From: Ripon College - Nov 22, 2004

RIPON, Wis. – Ripon College sophomore Ashley Nuter, the daughter of Theresa and David Nuter of Racine, Wis., is used to accommodating others. "All of my life, I've had to adapt to others in order to make them feel comfortable with my disability," she said. Nuter found a different atmosphere at Ripon College, however — an atmosphere she can certainly get used to. Nuter, who has been deaf since birth, said she was afraid of not being accepted at Ripon because of being different. "I was worried that I wouldn't be able to fit in," said Nuter. Her concern quickly dissipated. "Students are outgoing and understanding, and the professors are accommodating and encouraging. Ripon College is the best decision I could have made regarding my education," she said.

After spending her first year of college at a different institution, Nuter said she didn't feel challenged as a student. Katie Braun, the daughter of Margaret Braun of Racine and a childhood friend of Nuter's, urged her to give Ripon a try.

"I visited Ripon last spring and I was so impressed with how I was able to interact with students despite the fact that we have different languages," said Nuter, who admits she had never considered attending a college specifically for deaf students. "I'm a non-conformist. I like to step out and challenge people. I like to step out in an environment where deafness is little known and spread knowledge about the deaf culture," she said.

"Having Ashley in class has been a learning experience," according to Professor of Biology Skip Wittler. Due to the large number of new vocabulary words associated with his introductory science courses, Wittler has made an effort to change his teaching style to better accommodate Nuter's needs and the needs of her interpreter. Wittler now writes out vocabulary on the chalkboard more frequently. He and Nuter's other professors, however, welcome the prospect of learning new skills to be more helpful to Nuter, and say they are never hesitant because of Nuter's positive attitude and class participation.

"I have enjoyed working with Ashley, and I have found her to be very cooperative and fun to teach," said Professor of Psychology Joe Hatcher. "What I especially appreciate about her is that she is very teachable. She enjoys learning new things and has a real sense of accomplishment when she masters a concept."

Nuter said she appreciates how the sincere and concerned faculty members treat students as adults and that she has found the academic challenge she was searching for at Ripon. She also appreciates the financial aid that has made it possible for her to be at Ripon today. Now she is not only a successful student working on majors in psychology and education, she is also involved in the college newspaper, intramural athletics, and is considering joining a sorority.

"I am not surprised at the personable nature of the campus and community, but I am impressed about how everyone is always looking out for us as students," said Nuter, who is also a member of The Flying Hands Club.

The Flying Hands Club was started last year by Braun, who is hearing impaired. Now a sophomore, Braun said she didn't form the student-run club merely for her friend's benefit, but for the benefit of other students. "Sign language has been a passion of mine for a long time, and I thought that it would be beneficial for Ripon students to learn about this type of language and the culture of deafness," said Braun.

Flying Hands will present "The Silent Treatment," an event focusing on the lives of and challenges faced by deaf people, Thursday, Dec. 9, at 7 p.m. in the Great Hall of Ripon's Harwood Memorial Union. The program is designed to offer participants the chance to learn sign language, gain insight into the life of deaf people and receive information on how to prevent hearing loss, according to Braun. There will also be a silent auction to raise money for "Paws with a Cause," a national organization which trains assistance dogs for people with disabilities and provides lifetime team support thereby encouraging independence.

The event is co-sponsored by Ripon's Student Media and Activities Committee. For more information contact Dan Krhin, director of Student Support Services and Flying Hands Club advisor, at 920-748-8107.

Ripon College, founded in 1851, has been providing a quality, personal liberal arts and sciences education to undergraduates for more than 150 years. Ripon has been recognized as "A Best 357 College" by The Princeton Review and among 160 of the best schools in the nation by Colleges of Distinction. For more information about Ripon College, visit