Clara Jean "Jeanie" Mosley Hall M.S. '76
Think back to when you were a child just learning to speak, read or write. Learning the nuances of one language was hard enough but imagine that you had to learn two — and serve as an interpreter for the adults in your life. That’s the situation Clara Jean “Jeanie” Mosley Hall M.S. ’76 was born into as a Child of Deaf Adults (CODA).
It’s a different world for CODAs today with the accessibility of cell phones, texting and video calls. But in the 1950s and 1960s before the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf was established, Hall was forced to grow up faster than her peers who had hearing parents.
“You grew up fast because you were exposed to information and situations that, perhaps, kids today would not have to go through,” Hall says. “My mother left when I was 4 and my father raised me primarily, but regardless of the situation, it was me interpreting for him. It was just the two of us.”
As a high schooler, Hall didn’t even see herself going to college, much less obtaining a Ph.D. and having a career in higher education. But once she met her future husband, Howard, she realized that her everyday skills — namely being able to speak American Sign Language (ASL) — could be valuable.
“I didn’t see it that way,” she says. “You don’t appreciate what other people can see within you until they point it out.”
“McDaniel was close to home, and I heard that it was an excellent program in Deaf Education. At that time, I really didn’t know what I could do with my skills, but it seemed that this could be something I could do and do well.” – Jeanie Hall M.S. ’76
After graduating with her bachelor’s degree from Delaware State University, her then-boyfriend challenged her again, this time suggesting she go to graduate school. That’s how she ended up at McDaniel College.
“It was close to home, and I heard that it was an excellent program in Deaf Education,” Hall says. “At that time, I really didn’t know what I could do with my skills, but it seemed that this could be something I could do and do well.”
Since Hall was already fluent in ASL, she completed the master’s degree requirements in one year and had a job before she even graduated. When her husband’s job took them to Cleveland, she stayed home with her two daughters until they were teenagers, working part-time teaching ASL at Cleveland State, where she eventually earned her Ph.D.
Today, Hall is a professor at Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) in Cleveland, where she teaches ASL to hearing students who are looking to become interpreters. “It’s a very small program. For two and a half years, they are like my children,” Hall says. “My students stay in touch and come back to talk to our new students about working in the field after graduation. I love teaching at Tri-C.”
Career: Professor, American Sign Language (ASL)
Major: Deaf Education, M.S.