Gabrielle Gil

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Spotlight on our Graduates

Gabrielle Gil

Associate in Applied Science Degree in American Sign Language (ASL)
English Interpreter Training Program
Certificate of Achievement in American Sign Language and Deaf Studies

One of the first ASL graduates of PCCC
ASL – English Interpretation Graduate Award
Nominee: The Robert A. Shea Memorial Award

She Fell in Love With a Language That Changed Her Life

Gabrielle Gil was nearly finished with her program in Criminal Justice at another community college.  Then everything changed when she fell in love. 

But her love affair was with a language, not a person.  “I took a class in American Sign Language and was absolutely mesmerized,” said Gabrielle.  “ I decided to change my major.”

Gabrielle’s decision  required not only a change of major, but also a transfer to a different school.  “My college only offered ASL as a language class,” she explained.  “PCCC has a complete ASL program.”

This week, the East Rutherford resident and member of Phi Theta Kappa honor society will be among the first four ASL students at PCCC to graduate with an A.A.S. Degree in the American Sign Language –English Interpreter Training Program.

“It’s really exciting to be in the first group of ASL graduates,” she said.  “We all became very close to each other and worked hard together.”

A graduate of Henry P. Becton Regional High School in Bergen County, Gabrielle first encountered ASL  at her previous college in a class similar to the College Experience course at PCCC.  There were seven deaf students in that class. 

“I was intrigued when I watched them communicate with each other by signing,” said Gabrielle.  Her curiosity led her to take an ASL class to fulfill her language requirement.

That class was the turning point that influenced her to change majors, even when she was nearly finished with her Criminal Justice program. 

“My family was surprised, but they also felt that I should do this if I found something I really loved.”  

“ASL is an amazing language,” said Gabrielle. “I love the language’s structure and being able to interpret in beautiful life forms.”

Like her classmates, Gabrielle acknowledges the route to graduation was not easy.  “Learning ASL is challenging. You need to practice a lot.  Practice is key.  Go home, stand in front of a mirror and practice.”

She enjoyed attending deaf events and gatherings, especially with her classmates. “ I was scared at first, because I didn’t want to make mistakes,” she said.  “The deaf community is very understanding, though. 
If you sign something incorrectly, they’ll help and encourage you.”

They attended informal gatherings called deaf chats at Starbucks, went to interpreted church services, and played Wingo, the name for Bingo games for the deaf. 

“We were able to use our new language to communicate and build a bond of friendship with the deaf community,” said Gabrielle. 

Last September, she and her classmates started the ASL club on campus and Gabrielle served as the clubs’s first treasurer.  Most club activities involved community service projects to create awareness of ASL and the deaf community.

Earlier this year, Gabrielle did her internship at Union Street School  for the Deaf in Hackensack.  “ As an intern, I worked with students in grades 6-8, but I love little kids the most,” she said.

Her goal is to become a teacher of deaf children.  “I have a knack for children,” she said. “I love to see them grow and develop their minds.” 

In September, Gabrielle plans to attend The College of New Jersey to pursue her bachelor’s degree in the Deaf and Hard of Hearing program while minoring in psychology. 

She is very satisfied that she made the decision to study ASL at PCCC. “ I would definitely recommend the program here,” she said.  “It’s strict, but you learn a lot and meet so many people along the way.”

Gabrielle hopes many more students will enroll.  “There is a high demand and so many job opportunities out there out there for deaf interpreters.” 

She added.  “In our program at PCCC, we became a family. We all supported each other and were there for each other.  If I had to do it over again, I wouldn’t have gone anywhere else.”