Thursday, February 17, 2011
By Degrees - Isidore Niyongabo
Questions for Isidore Niyongabo, 2010 Homecoming King
Photo: Sandy Huffaker Jr.
Country of Birth: Burundi
Field of study: Psychology
As a deaf person, what challenges have you faced?
I became deaf from meningitis when I was 10. After attending a school for the deaf, I was mainstreamed into a private Catholic school because there are no secondary schools for the deaf in Burundi. I had no interpreters or note takers, but I worked hard and graduated at the top of my class. However, my government would not allow me to attend university. I came to America to get an education so I can be an advocate for deaf children in developing countries.
Who on campus has been the most influential person in your life?
Dr. Estralita Martin, assistant dean for student affairs in the College of Sciences. We grew up in similar family environments, where hardworking parents with dreams of success for their children inspired us to think big and aim high. She always challenges me with ideas that make me think twice so that I can make well informed decisions.
How did you become Homecoming King?
I was nominated by members of the American Sign Language Club along with 26 other students from other campus clubs. All of us submitted lengthy applications and went through extensive interviews. From the final 14, I was selected king and Sadie Eisley, nominated by Mortar Board, was selected queen.
What is your favorite place on campus?
The turtle pond is my favorite because of the trees, the shade and the peaceful setting. The ASL Club has meetings there so passersby can see us. It’s important to keep the culture alive on campus. Sign language allows us to go anywhere in the world, and if you take that away, you are separating the hearing world from the deaf world.