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How students volunteered at the Hearing Speech + Deaf Center in the pandemic

Posted at 8:55 AM, May 03, 2021

CINCINNATI — The pandemic presented a slew of problems for many people, but University of Cincinnati student volunteers at the Hearing Speech + Deaf Center of Greater Cincinnati found a way to make it work.

Jordan Klemt is a sophomore who has known for years that she wants to be a speech pathologist. Jayse Card is a freshman who learned American Sign Language in high school and fell in love with it.

Klemt and Card are two of the 18 UC students who volunteered at the Hearing Speech + Deaf Center of Greater Cincinnati. Usually, students meet with staff members at the center and shadow them to get some hands-on experience in the field, but the pandemic stopped that.

"I knew there was going to be less opportunity to shadow and volunteer," Card said.

"It's been extraordinarily challenging," Steve Wesselkamper, director of development and marketing at the center, said. "First of all, how do we stage this kind of volunteer experience in a virtual world?"

The students started using their social media and their internet skills to meet with people over services like Zoom.

"This has made me a believer in creativity and innovation," Wesselkamper said. "I can't wait to pick it up a year from now."

The center also allowed student volunteers to come in to the center for short visits, which last between 10 and 15 minutes. Even that short time has made all the difference though.

"Finally being able to come in and actually witness things is so exciting," Klemt said. "It's really exciting to finally get back into the groove of everything... It's not the same over Zoom."