Monique Lebron

Paterson Campus Park

Spotlight on our Graduates

Monique Lebron

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
Nominee: Robert A. Shea Memorial Award

Paterson Resident Wanted to Make History at PCCC

There were times when Monique Lebron thought about quitting college. “I had panic attacks, and sometimes just wanted to go home and cry.”

Though she did sometimes cry, Monique never gave up.  “When I realized I would be in the first ASL (American Sign Language) group to graduate from PCCC, I wanted to be part of history. That kept me going.”

On May 23, Monique will receive her A.A.S. Degree in the American Sign Language –English Interpreter Training Program, one of the first four graduates to complete the program at PCCC.

A Paterson resident and graduate of Passaic County Technical Institute (PCTI), Monique entered PCCC in 2010 and was attracted to the (then) new ASL program.

“I took a year of sign language in high school and really enjoyed it,” she explained. “ASL seemed so beautiful, a peaceful way to communicate without words.”

Her first year at PCCC went well, but in Fall 2011, when she received her ASL handbook and learned what the future of the program would entail, Monique felt overwhelmed. “It seemed like so much work,” she said. “I felt scared and thought about switching my program to something else.” 

To make matters worse, her uncle passed away at that time.  “That was very traumatic for me,” said Monique. “It was the first time I ever went to a funeral, and I was said to think about how life can end.”   

She became depressed and with her heavy work load that spring, started experiencing panic attacks. “I didn’t think she could handle school anymore,” said Monique.  “I often had to leave class to cry or call my parents to calm down.” 

Then she had a realization.  “I saw that other people had bigger problems than I had,” she said.  “I lost my uncle, but my cousins lost their father, and they were managing to go on with life…to go to school and do what they had to do.”

Her  motivation was renewed. “I decided I was in it to win it.”

Monique committed to her studies and joined the ASL club, where she participated in fundraisers and community service projects. She volunteered with the Northwest Jersey Association of the Deaf an organization that provides educational an social opportunities to Deaf and hard of hearing individuals.

She learned teaching skills by preparing lesson plans and tutoring deaf children. “I love kids and worked with them in an extended day program at a Paterson charter school,” she said.
Though Monique described her first experience among the deaf community as a “culture shock,” she eventually developed confidence in her ability to communicate in ASL and embraced her new community. “It’s a very touchy-feely, friendly, and open culture,” she said.

Monique hopes to attend Montclair State University (MSU) to earn her bachelor’s degree and pursue a career incorporating ASL, though she is not yet sure what form that will take.“I enjoy teaching and have a passion for art,” she said. “Maybe I can teach art to deaf children.”

A self-described homebody, Monique came to PCCC because it was close to home, but found it to be more than she expected.

“I will miss PCCC and would recommend this College to anyone, especially if you live in the area,” she said. “Everything is here to help you succeed. Tutoring is available and teachers are very friendly and have time to talk and help you.”

She is grateful to her professors, especially Lisa Hines of the ASL program. “She was tough, but we really learned,” said Monique. 

Like other ASL students at PCCC, Monique said she felt “so accomplished” by her achievement. “It was hard,” she admits. “ I had low self esteem and lots of anxiety when I started, but now I am very proud and there is no greater feeling than finishing this program.”