Erica first discovered her interest in American Sign Language in 2003 while completing a B.S. in Film & Television Production at Boston University. Since then, she has grown passionate about the language, the Deaf community, and the field of interpreting. In 2013, Erica decided to pursue her second B.S., this time in ASL/English Interpreting here at Northeastern.
Erica graduated in May 2016 and loves being part of the Massachusetts interpreting community.
Here is her Northeastern story…
“I spent so many years trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I worked in a bunch of different settings, but I was never quite satisfied. One day, it just sort of hit me. I realized that I wanted to be an interpreter, and just like that, I was completely clear about my life goals. It was a pretty incredible moment!”
Erica’s initial interest in interpreting stemmed from her love of ASL. While at Boston University, she took ASL classes as electives. Erica was fascinated by the differences between visual and spoken languages. She found herself enjoying her ASL classes more than any of her major requirements. After graduating from Boston University, although she did not take formal ASL classes for several years, she never stopped thinking about the language and wishing she could use it more.
Seven years after graduating from Boston University, Erica decided she was ready for a career in interpreting. She knew that Northeastern University was where she wanted to pursue this dream, so she sent in her application and hoped for the best. As soon as she received her acceptance letter, she knew her life would never be the same.
Over the three years she studied at Northeastern, her love of ASL translated into a passion for interpreting. She immersed herself within the Massachusetts Deaf and interpreting communities, completed a co-op with the Northeastern University American Sign Language Program, served as president for the Interpreting Club at Northeastern University, and interned with The Learning Center for the Deaf, a nationally recognized leader in educational, therapeutic, and community services for deaf and hard of hearing children and adults.
“American Sign Language is amazing. It has its own grammar, its own syntax, its own lexicon. Linguistically, it is a totally separate language from English. Each language has its own allowances and limitations, and it is such a privilege to have the opportunity to learn about both and see them evolve in such different ways.”
“Deaf History and Culture”
When she entered Northeastern, Erica had only ever known one Deaf person, so her knowledge of the Deaf community was limited. Her first semester here, she enrolled in “Deaf History and Culture”, which was co-taught by Dr. Dennis Cokely, the director of the American Sign Language Program, and Alma Bournazian, a Deaf ASL instructor. The class covered the history and culture of the American Deaf Community, specifically the positive and negative effects of various educational, political, and technological forces and events. Erica credits “Deaf History and Culture” as a course that provided her with a strong foundational understanding of the importance of ASL in Deaf culture, the shared values that bring the Deaf community together, and the ways in which society has restricted and oppressed Deaf individuals throughout history.
“It was eye-opening to sit in that class, learn about the heroes and villains of Deaf history, and try to begin to understand what the Deaf community has experienced over the years. As with all groups of people, their past has shaped who they are today, so this information is crucial in shaping how I serve them as an interpreter.”
As an older student, Erica spent her first semester at Northeastern struggling to find her place among her cohort, all of whom were much younger than her. For that reason, Erica chose to complete her co-op on campus, in hopes that she would find a cohort among the staff within the American Sign Language Program. Having already worked in an office setting for several years prior to attending Northeastern, Erica immediately felt like “part of the family” within the ASL Program office. Her six-month co-op turned into a two-year office assistant position, which then turned into a multi-faceted post-graduate relationship that continues today. Over the past four years, Erica has worked with the ASL Program faculty and staff to co-coordinate four annual ASL Festivals and three annual ASL Summer Symposiums.
“Hello! My name is Erica Kramer. I graduated from Northeastern in 2016 and currently work as a staff interpreter at The Learning Center for the Deaf. I also remain connected to Northeastern through my work with the American Sign Language Program. I really do love Northeastern and have grown to feel quite at home here. Come check it out!”
In addition to her continuing role with the ASL Program, Erica is also a staff interpreter at The Learning Center for the Deaf in Framingham, Massachusetts. Erica is MCDHH Screened/Approved and is working toward her National Interpreter Certification (NIC) and Educational Interpreter Performance Assessment (EIPA).
In her spare time, she is on the leadership team for Young Professional Interpreters (YPI): Greater Boston and is serving for the second year as volunteer co-coordinator for the annual StreetLeverage Live event. She continues to seek out and seize every opportunity to be involved and give back to the Deaf and interpreting communities.