When Holli Tempe was child, she loved to watch Linda Bove, the deaf actress who played Linda the Librarian on the PBS children’s show Sesame Street. She was fascinated when Bove would pop up in a little interpreting bubble during the show.
Years later, when Tempe started her studies at St. Petersburg College, she jumped on the chance to take American Sign Language (ASL) classes. Initially, she planned to pursue a career in computer programming. By the time she graduated with her Associate of Arts degree, she had taken ASL levels 1, 2 and 3. After graduation she transferred to the University of South Florida to study computer programming. It only took one semester for her to realize programming wasn’t for her. Eventually, she returned to SPC and completed the Associate in Science degree in Sign Language Interpretation.
“I remembered right away how much I loved it,” she said. “The instruction I had at SPC was just phenomenal.”
Sign language internship provides invaluable experience
SPC’s sign language program has a required internship that made a big difference to Tempe.
“My SPC internship was amazing,” she said. “It definitely helped improve my skills and gave me the experience of a live interpreting situation so that when I got out in the community I didn’t have that deer in the headlights experience.”
Career event leads to interpreting job
During her final term at SPC she attended a career event where she connected with Purple Communications, an interpretation company that serves the local Deaf community. They tested her interpreting skill level and offered her a job before she even walked across the stage at graduation.
She continued to work for Purple Communications and enrolled in the University of North Florida’s ASL/English Interpreting undergraduate program. Their A.S. to B.S. transfer program is offered mostly online. Students come to campus in Jacksonville one weekend a month.
“When I left SPC, I felt totally ready for the bachelors program at UNF,” she said. “The SPC professors expect that you will continue your education and meet your goal of being a nationally certified interpreter.”
She earned her bachelor’s degree from UNF two years later and is now pursuing a master’s degree in the same program with a concentration in Interpreting Pedagogy. Her goal is eventually to return to SPC to teach interpreting classes.
She also passed the national certification tests with the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID).
“Being RID certified makes you more valuable to your employer,” she said. “It also opens doors for other interpreting opportunities where you can improve your skills and increase your knowledge.”
Tempe said her SPC instructors and administration were very supportive.
“SPC inspired me to continue to focus on my goals,” she said. “They expected a lot and held me accountable – and for me, that was very motivating.”